On the 25th June, elections were held at Qom Community “Spring”, in the province of Formosa. A group of us, who had been helping the community with their claims, went to Formosa in order to guarantee the transparency of the elections.
The elections were done within the framework of the agreements aiming to solve the conflict about the return of the qom’s land. Those lands were restored to the community by the National State in 1940 and they were seized partly by Formosa Government, a business family and some National Parks. The highest stage of this conflict was the bloody repression carried out by the provincial government last year, on 23 November.
The legal representative of the community would be chosen in this election. That representative would be able to discuss the definite possession of the land with the provincial and national Government. The candidates were Félix Díaz, who carried out claims against repression and for the lands restitution and Cristino Sanabria, supported by the provincial Government. As said before, some friends went to Formosa with the objective of guaranteeing the transparency of the elections. We arrived there the 23rd Thursday and we were accommodated in tents, on the poor land next to Felix Diaz house. In the few days before our return on the 26th Sunday, we could verify some things.
1) The abject poverty situation in which the community survive, serious deficiencies in health, education, the lack of water, the lack of every kind of resources, etc.
2) A direct interference of the provincial government on the elections. Threatening people to take away the few economical help they get, or trying to bribe them with food, beds, and so on. There were also supplied vans by some people related to the provincial government in order to take people to vote.
3) It was really important our presence where the elections took part. We and some other representatives of the civil society (50 people) were in charge of recording, taking pictures and supporting their society. We believe that without our presence there could have been fraud.
4) The extraordinary hospitality and sensibility of the community, which make us feel their friendship and gratitude in the middle of such a strain situation.
5) Felix Diaz’s clarity, who was calm and trusted on what people would decide will be the best for the group.
The election results were overwhelming. Over a register of 1256 people, 80% voted, giving 610 votes for Diaz and 369 for Sanabria.
The next day, Felix carried out a meeting with his people, in which he explained the implications of this new responsibility, which was incumbent on all members of the community, showing his explanations by drawing with a stick on the ground.
Before we left we got a gift: attending to the protection that a community shaman did to Felix. It was an intense ceremony and full of meaning, surely reinforcing him for the new stage that starts, which would imply new and big challenges.
Translated to English by Sarai Martín-Grande Morales
More photos: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/media/set/?set=a.181843081874094.46877.100001452091302