More Violence Against Campesinos in Paraguay

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From La Soya Mata – Soy Kills

ESP September 20th , Asunción – Paraguay At the end of August an encampment of landless peasants in the neighbourhood of Ka´iho (district of Yhu in Paraguayan province Caaguazu) was evicted, on the orders of the district attorney for environment, Alejandrino Rodríguez. During this operation 7 people were arrested and held for 22 days on the charge of environmental crime. Only yesterday (september 19th 2007) were they released on probation.

This camp consists of 60 families, part of the regional peasant movement Movimiento Agrario y Popular (MAP). 3 months ago they occupied this domain, which forms part of a large landed estate of 3000 hectares. This estate is owned by Sr. Sapriza Núnez, who according to the MAP is a family member of current Paraguayan vice-minister of Security, Mario Agustín Sapriza Núnez.

According to the neighbourhood commission, this estate is fiscal land (public land destined for land reform that has been illegally appropriated). When they occupied the terrain, the campesinos (peasants) exposed to the police that the large estate owner was deforesting in order to expand soy monocultures. They estimate that approximately 800 hectares were deforested.

Unfortunately the report presented by the landless peasants was used against them to evict, arrest and sentence them. Outstanding arrest orders remain, including one for the president of the neighbourhood commission, Arnaldo Soto.

Jorge Galeano, peasant leader of the MAP, said the landless peasants suffered a violent eviction, including the destruction and burning of their houses.

This incident takes place in the context of much tension in rural Paraguay. There is latent poverty in the population after 5 months of drought and huge fires that have swept over the whole country. If the situation remains unchanged, soon thousands of peasant families will have nothing left to eat.

In the meantime, evictions and attacks on peasant communities become more common. This is a consequence of real estate speculation and the rise in production of commodities like soy and sugarcane. This year agribusiness is preparing for a record harvest and respects nothing in the way of growing a few more square metres.