Massacre in the department of Caaguazu -PARAGUAY
Brazilean Genetically Modified soy growers protected by the police and military in Paraguay have attacked last friday (24/06/05) a peasant community, TEKOJOJA, in Caaguazu. They have evicted 270 people, burnt down all the 54 houses and crops. 2 men have been killed -- ANGEL CRISTALDO and LUIS TORRES -- there are many people injured and 130 people arrested amongst them many women and children.
The peasant community of Tekojoja is a land settlement of 500 hectares were 56 peasants families live and is located 70 km from the city of Caaguazu in Paraguay. The peasant community of Tekojoja is part of the OrganizaciÃ³n Agraria y Popular, part of MCNOC (National coordination platform of peasant organisatiosn) Via Campesina Paraguay. They are also involved in the Frente por la Soberania y la Vida (Front for Food Sovereignity and Life).
Caauguazu together with San Pedro are the regions where the GM soy monocultures have mainly been expanding in Paraguay in the last 5 years. There are 2 million hectares of GM soy monocultures in Paraguay and the government plan the expansion of 2 more million hectares. In Paraguay less than 2% of the population owns 7% of the land causing the expulsion of the peasants of their historical territories.The GM soy monocultures aimed for export is a principal cause to this severe situation, the rate of land conflicts have multiplied in the last years; only in 2004, 162 land conflicts and 118 land occupation took place.
Tekojoja is one of the peasant settlement recovered during the land reform, however many of these lands have gone back to the hands of private big land owner by illegal and corrupted manouvres or by tricking of the peasant. This is the case of the Tekojoja community that has since its beginnig been threatened by the expansion of the GM soy monocultures. Adelin Osperman is a brasilean GM soy producers that want to control these lands and begun a juridical trial against the peasants despite that the settlement were legally recognised 3 years ago by the current government of Nicanor Duarte Frutos. Carlos Gonzalez member of the CoordinaciÃ³n de la Organizacion Agraria y Popular states "the judge in charge of the juridical process has never taken into account that these land belonged to the state and were donated to the peasant organisations with the land reform program". In august 2004, the community was attacked and tried to be evicted with the results of several arrested people and injured people.
On friday 25 june, at 5.30 in the morning the attorney Pedro Torrales and Nelly Varela appeared with 150 policemen with the intention of evicting the whole community. While the eviction, and with the presence of the attorneys, people were brutally harassed and beaten.The police were evicting and arresting the people followed by the paramilitary groups destroying and burning the houses with caterpillar tractors. In total 130 people were arrested amongst them 40 children and they were taken to the local jail in Caaguazu. Galeano, a spoke person of the community, informed that after the incident 29 men, 19 women y 40 children have been liberated. Several peasants are missing since friday. In the eviction, the legal land owner Adelin Osperman (brasilean soy producer) joined by hired gunmen entered the land with trucks and from these shot the peasants, killing Angel Cristaldo (20 years old) , y Leopoldo Torres (49 years old) and severely injuring 5 more people in front of the policemen present in the settlement. One is still in a critic state in the Hospital La Candelaria (Caaguazu), Anibal Gonzalez had to be operated yesterday. The ComisiÃ³n Nacional de Derechos Humanos, the National Comission of Human Rights of Paragauy is covering the health care cost as the health and social services in tha country have been privatised.
At current date Ademir Oppermann and several of his gunmen have been arrested because of the murders. In the arrestement a whole arsenal of weapons were found 4 shotguns, 2 of caliber 12 and 2 of caliber 20, one revolver caliber 38, and bullets packages for shotguns, all these were found in the trucks that entered the peasant community to destroy houses and crops. The actions of these paramilitary groups have been widely denounced during the last years. It is with the help of these groups that the majority of the evictions take place ususally under the collaboration of militaries and policegroups. The last time this was denounced was in January this year when Jorge Galeano, a peasant lider of the community, denounced publicly that Opperman had hired armed goups to terrorise the peasant communities.
The urgency is now to help to the 270 people that have lost all their belongings, they are back into their land where nothing is left. The landowner took away 3 trucks with belonging of the peasant and only one has been found back and is in the hands of the police. It is worth to remark the urgent situation of the whole community that are now facing the winter without clothes, food and shelter.
The peasant organisations have planned several demonstrations for the coming days. There wil be demonstrations in Asuncion in front of the attorneys offices, denouncing the behauvior of the two attorneys that ordered the evictions. One of them , Nelly Varela ordered verbally to the police to take the children out of the school and arrest them and take them to jail as they were criminals, stated Galeano. The peasant organisation will as well try to meet the president of INDERT (Rural Development and Land Issue Institution) and demand the protection of their lands by this institute. "Ko yvyko oremba'e, ha roi roproba haguaicha upeva; roguerekopa la documento ome'eva'ekue oreve Indert ha upevare ndorose mo'ai ko'agui (this land belongs to us and we can show it , we have the documents from the government institution INDERT and we will not leave) stated Jorge Galeano.
We ask international organisations to spread this situation, network for solidarity actions and send human right observers to Paraguay. Many land conflicts take time during the soy crop season (dec- mars) when the peasant tries to stop the pesticide fumigations in the surroundings of the communities confronting police and military that guards the soy fields.
The peasant communities need help in the form of support for legal advocacy and health care. They need to cover the costs of lawyers for the juridical processes defending their lands and to denounce the violation of their rights. The health care is privatized in Paraguay and the peasants do not have access to it. They are intensively poisoned by the fumigation of pesticides and the community members are suffering severe health problems and need to do tests and buy medicines. The coordination of women of peasant and indigenous women - CONAMURI- is at current date maintaining the courtcase against two brasilean soy producers acussed of murdering a 11 years old boy, Silvino Talavera by their uncareless fumigation of Round Ready herbicide.
BOLETÃN FSP- 24-06-05