Oscar Soria

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Oscar Soria
Born Santiago del Estero, Argentina
Residence New York City, United States
Occupation Campaigner,
Avaaz
Media director,
WWF
Various roles,
Greenpeace
News editor,
El Liberal
Founder and Executive Director,
Salus Terrae
Employer Avaaz

Oscar Soria (born 1974) is an Argentinian political activist, social journalist, and environmental and human rights campaigner, currently serving as senior campaigner in the international activist group Avaaz. Previously he was the global brand director of Greenpeace and afterwards the media director of WWF.

Soria was also part of the directorate of the British section of Oxfam and confidant and close adviser of progressive politicians, social advocates and NGO leaders in Latin America and Asia.

Early and personal life[edit]

Born in Santiago del Estero in a traditional political family and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he went back to his province in 1984 with his family, during the beginning of the democratic transition in the aftermath of the National Reorganization Process. He led many efforts to promote transitional justice, in particular over forced disappearances and the stolen children during the dictatorship in the country.

Soria started his journalism career in the newspaper El Liberal when he was 14, becoming the youngest journalist in the Argentine media, leading high-profile investigative reports on social, environmental and human rights issues. He was known for shifting the rules of covering political campaigns, by refusing visibility to rallies or negative campaigning and organising instead local debates, community forums, off-line civic and open-source journalism formats, focusing the discussions in party platforms rather than candidates.

Activism[edit]

Grassroots organizing[edit]

Since the age of 16, he was involved in neighborhood organizing, youth work in his community, and mass mobilizations against land grabbing.

In 1993 he founded the human rights and environmental justice movement Salus Terrae, which brought youth activists from rural areas and poor neighborhoods with university students and youth groups of the Catholic church. With this group, they campaigned for lands rights and water access, and successfully stopped deforestation and agribusiness plans, nuclear repositories and mass river engineering projects. The group were known by their high-profile exposes, denouncing illegal toxic waste[1] and deforestation.[2] During his campaign against the channelization project called "Canal Federal", there were notorious public clashes between Soria and then the governor of Santiago del Estero, Carlos Juárez, the national environmental secretary María Julia Alsogaray and the president of Argentina, Carlos Menem.[3]

Environmental causes[edit]

In 1999 Soria was appointed in Greenpeace, where his early adoption of mobile phones led into landmark victories in forest protection and indigenous rights in Argentina.[4][5][6][7][8] He also designed a successful campaign towards the reduction of waste by encouraging individuals to participate in mobile campaigning.[9]

Soria later designed high-profile campaigns on GMOs, deforestation, pollution and climate change, leading mass global pressure against companies such as Nestlé, Tata Group, Volkswagen, Mattel or McDonald's, using subvertising, internet activism, mobile campaigns and other creative confrontational tactics in United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and in the Netherlands. A political TV show called him "the man who shakes companies" [10]

He also advised indigenous movements and communities opposed to mining, paper mills and agribusiness in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

In February 2012 Soria left Greenpeace International to join the global group WWF in its world's headquarters in Switzerland [11] where he led social media campaigns against illegal wildlife trade and climate change.

Human rights and humanitarian issues[edit]

After two years in WWF International, Soria left the organisation and joined the advocacy operations of Avaaz in the United States to work on a broader agenda.

Representing Avaaz, Soria has pushed for reaching an agreement on a Global Compact on Migration and in a UNESCO conference he made a plea to religious and civil society leaders to keep political pressure on world leaders: "There’s a painful exodus happening, where millions of the poorest of the poor are displaced by wars and environmental crises. They lost everything. An immense diaspora is seeking hope and a better future, and in that ordeal they often meet stigmatization, rejection, humiliation, slavery and even the very death they sought to escape. During my adult life, I have met many refugees and displaced people. In spite of their grief and desolation, behind their loss of hope, there’s a spirit of determination and overcoming. Despite their despair, many haven’t given up and they have dreams. And if they haven’t given up, how on Earth do we have the right to give up?"[12]

Soria has also advocated for a stronger Catholic leadership on refugees, praising the decision of Pope Francis to wash the feet of the refugees during Easter in 2016, while calling for a political solution to the migrant crisis in Europe. He said Pope's gesture was "a very important message to world leaders."[13] Few days later, in an opinion piece in La Nación, Soria called on Argentina's president Mauricio Macri to take more leadership on refugee policy.[14]

In August 2017, in an interview with Vice, Soria criticized the tactics of the right wing group Defend Europe against refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. The C-Star, a vessel of rented by the identitarian group, originally planned to land at Catania's harbor and prevent NGO ships from assisting migrants in danger, but the operation was aborted after citizens, unions, migrant workers, faith groups and Avaaz activists blocked the port. Soria later said, "Our lawyers, who had examined the legal position, wanted authorities to know that they not only had the power to close the port, but should do so in order to prevent the C-Star from frustrating efforts to rescue refugees at risk at sea."[15]

Publications[edit]

Soria has written dozens of articles about activism and progressive causes, mainly in Spanish. He appears regularly or contributes to CNN En Español, New York Times, Vatican Radio, Vice, La Nación, Clarín and Página/12.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Soria was mostly awarded for his investigative work on human rights and environmental issues.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Confirmado: al mes de julio de 1999 Santiago del Estero sigue teniendo el depósito de residuos más peligroso de Argentina | FUNAM. http://www.funam.org.ar (1999-07-01). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  2. ^ Talan sin control especies en extinción del bosque chaqueño | Clarin. http://www.clarin.com.ar (1998-10-19). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  3. ^ Una obra amenaza a Mar Chiquita | La Nacion. http://www.lanacion.com.ar (1998-10-12). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  4. ^ Greenpeace uses SMS to monitors forest destruction | 160Characters. http://160characters.org (2005-11-7). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  5. ^ Forest Saved With Mobiles | 160Characters. http://160characters.org (2005-11-7). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  6. ^ I was there | Greenpeace. http://www.greenpeace.org (2009-04-22). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  7. ^ Cell phone for campaigns - stories from MobileActive | MobileActive. http://aspirationtech.org (2005-10-4). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  8. ^ SMS mobilizes demobilize rainforest destruction | TechPresident. http://techpresident.com (2005-10-4). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  9. ^ SMS Creates Zero Waste in Buenos Aires | TechPresident. https://techpresident.com (2005-12-12). Retrieved on 2012-06-09.
  10. ^ El hombre de Greenpeace que hace temblar a las empresas | La Hora de Maquiavelo. https://www.youtube.com/user/lahorademaquiavelo (2010-12-20). Retrieved on 2012-01-05.
  11. ^ WWF International Directors | WWF. http://www.panda.org (2012-03-01). Retrieved on 2013-01-05.
  12. ^ Soria, Oscar (7 September 2016). "El clamor de los pobres y de la tierra: nuestra peregrinación" [The Cry of the Poor and the Earth: Our pilgrimage] (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  13. ^ Hitchen, Philippa (24 March 2016). "Pope's gesture to refugees seen as vital sign of welcome". Vatican Radio. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  14. ^ Soria, Oscar (30 March 2016). "Refugiados: momento de liderazgo argentino" [Refugees: time for an Argentine leadership] (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  15. ^ Rowsome, Alice (16 August 2017). "Locals Face Off Against Extremist Anti-Refugee Ship in the Mediterranean". Vice. Retrieved 8 September 2017.