Fabian Tomasi. Photo Credit: La Garganta Poderosa
Fabián Tomasi, who contracted severe toxic polyneuropathy due to his exposure to pesticides as an agricultural worker, but fought back by becoming an iconic voice against the impact of agribusiness and toxic chemicals, died on September 7. He had been in hospital for five days after having been diagnosed with pneumonia. Even as his illness inhibited his mobility and caused extreme pain, Tomasi valiantly continued to talk about the impact of chemicals (some of which are illegal), which are widely used in several provinces in the north of Argentina by agribusiness companies. This has led to thousands of cases of cancer, malformations and other related illnesses, which are often ignored or denied by the government and these companies.
Below is a piece written by Tomasi in March for La Garganta Poderosa about his life, illness, struggle and about those responsible for the suffering of his community. We have translated it so the words of this brave fighter will not die with him, but will reach many more people across the globe.
“I’M AFRAID TO DIE”
By Fabián Tomasi,
contaminated by pesticides
From a very young age, and for many years, I worked in the countryside, flying small planes, in direct contact with pesticides. I am from Basavilbaso, Entre Ríos, where the people learned how to get over their annoyance with the carnival floats. But unfortunately, behind the colored lights and underneath the majestic stages, today, all I can see is the face of Antonella González, a young girl who died of leukemia at the Garrahan Hospital four months ago. She was born in Gualeguaychú, just 9 years ago, and she died, a victim of pesticides. The doctors knew it, we all knew it; just as we also know that 55% of those hospitalized in Garrahan for cancer are from our province…
The most fumigated of the country,
one of the most poisoned in the world.
I never participated in any parties. Not before, because I never had enough money, and especially not now, because some time ago, they diagnosed me with severe toxic polyneuropathy, with 80% gravity. It affects my entire nervous system and keeps me imprisoned in my house. The first symptom was pain in my fingers, made worse by the fact that I was diabetic and insulin-dependent. Then, the poison affected my lung capacity, my elbows were hurt and white liquid came out of my knees. Now my body is frail, full of scabs, almost without mobility and at night, it is hard for me to sleep, because of the fear that I won’t wake up.
I’m afraid to die
I want to live.
Maybe, this fear can serve as a shield, a type of antibody, like humor. Or how so many people help so that I can be writing, instead of running away to cry, because the sickness has made me 50 kilos thinner and I have seen many people die as a consequence of the fumigation, but no one wants to talk. My brother Roberto, was another victim of the acid rain that their small planes spread. The liver cancer was unforgiving. I will never forget his agony. I will never forget listening to him scream all night from the pain. My father died because of this, with this agony in his mind, silently swallowing the impotence of seeing me like this. Drowned, in anger and fear.
I do not want to swallow my words.
I want to scream.
Many coastal provinces have been destroyed by glyphosate and other chemicals, as if they willingly forgot that we human beings have 70% genetic similarity with plants. How did they expect their poison to tell us apart? They don’t. This is why when they fumigate, only 20% remains in the vegetables and the rest is in the air that we breathe. Do you understand? Not everything is glitter and fun in places like San Salvador (a city in Entre Ríos), the “cancer town”, where half the deaths are due to the same cause. There, the carnival never arrives…And yes, I received many threats for raising awareness about what they make us eat, breathe and drink on a daily basis. It is not enough to say “Get out Monsanto,” because the chains of evil today extend to the rest of the multi-million dollar companies and they are tangled up in silence. Today, there are no sicknesses without poison and there is no poison without this criminal collusion between multinational companies, the health industry, the governments and the justice system. Today, more than ever, we need them to stop and we must fight for this, even in the worst scenarios because our enemy has become too strong…
They are not business people,
they are agents of death.