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Thread: Paraguay: Eleven campesinos acquitted for Curuguaty massacre

  1. #1
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Jul 2014

    Default Paraguay: Eleven campesinos acquitted for Curuguaty massacre

    A couple of days ago, the Supreme Court decided to acquit and release all campesinos (essentially tenant farmers, landless forced to rent the lands of local magnates), unjustly implicated (or even imprisoned) for murdering six police officers in what is known as the Curuguaty massacre, back in 2012. The surprising verdict of the court marks a remarkable victory for the human rights in Paraguay as well as the local popular movement. A brief summary of the general context:

    In 2012, several landless peasants protested against the illegal acquisition of 50 of uncultivated land by a powerful businessman, named Riquelme. Mr. Riquelme was a known senator of the notorious Colorado party who had ruled unopposed over Paraguay for several decades, and a collaborator with the regime of Alfred Strössner. It was the dictator of Paraguay who had illegally donated this land to Riquelme, despite the fact that it was originally meant to be exploited by the campesinos, according to the principles of the agrarian reform. The police forcefully intervened, shots were exchanged and the Special Forces attacked the camp, in a bloody affair that ended with the death of 6 policemen and 11 protesters. Only the death of the officers was investigated, as the campesinos were considered by the authorities a priori responsible for the massacre.

    However, the political implications of the incident are also quite interesting. In 2012, Paraguay was under the leadership of president Fernando Lugo, a liberal politician (and cleric), nicknamed as the Red Priest. His coalition dominated the parliament (albeit only in a relative majority) and he was viewed by many as the statesman who would transform Paraguay, a small country with a great history of exceptionally astute and tyrannical rulers (Solano López, already mentioned Strössner and the only victorious Libertador, Dr. Francia), into a free democracy. Unfortunately for these naive dreams, the presidency of Lugo was cut short, after the Parliament impeached him for the brutal and incompetent way he handled the crisis. Ironically, the procedure was initiated by the Colorado party, directly responsible for the dispute and famous for its protection of the elites against the demands of the lower classes.

    Now, thanks to Wikileaks and talkative American diplomats, we know that the massacre was just a pretext for the opposition to overthrow a president which it really disliked. However, the fact remains that Lugo's rule, contrary to the optimist expectations, did not witness any significant improvement in income equality, agrarian reform, corruption, police brutality, authoritarianism, social welfare and etc. Even under the leadership of a priest labelled as a social-democrat saviour by a couple of overenthusiastic media, Paraguay remained a feeble ''democracy'', where human rights are regularly violated and oligarchs are allowed to exploit penniless farmers and the country's wealth, under the auspices of the armed forces.

    So, what's your opinion? The acquittal of the campesinos is doubtlessly a positive sign that points towards a gradual "democratisation" of Paraguay, but as the closing paragraph of the Amnesty International underlines, the situation is far from perfect. What happened in Curuguaty and the scandalous decision of the authorities to ignore the responsibilities of the army and the police proves that the process will be slow and will not be miraculously solved by a populist Messiah, like Lugo. Evidently, the social situation in Paraguay is quite backwards, since agrarian do not present major difficulties in developed economies. Even in Romania, Wallachian boyars have lost their privileges since the '40s, but in Latin America, land redistribution is still causing trouble. Personally, I am afraid that the path towards a truly democratic Paraguay, where the state institutions will respect human rights and maintain a tolerable level of social and income equality will be long and arduous, as long as special interests, deeply entrenched in the country's economy, armed forces and government institutions, are not eradicated.
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; July 29, 2018 at 05:26 PM.

  2. #2
    NorseThing's Avatar Moderator
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    Jul 2017
    western usa

    Default Re: Paraguay: Eleven campesinos acquitted for Curuguaty massacre

    I saw this via the site. I was thinking of starting a thread as well.

    I do not know about the last part of your post. Lugo is still in government, just not the president. Impeached and removed because of political opposition. This is pretty much what any government should hope for if it is to try and establish a stronger democratic tradition.

    To be honest, I do not follow Paraguay politics. Is there hope for a better treatment of the mestizo? Yes. And is there hope for the landless? Probably not so much if the Mexican model is an example. The world does not value the landless peasants attempting agriculture on a very small scale. That alone is what I learned by study on the Mexican admission into NAFTA. Your Rumanian example is pretty much in agreement with my thoughts on this. If the landless in Paraguay have a future, it cannot be as landless peasants in agriculture working land that is not theirs to work.

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