The following comment and "very free translation and reworking from a message (in Spanish) sent today by the Grupo de Reflexion Rural in Argentina" comes from Dr Ignacio Chapela.
The Soy Republic burns
Mostly unseen to American and European eyes, a massive transformation of the South American landscape is taking place. A new bread basket for the world is being constructed in what used to be the wild and native lands of the Amazon basin. Monoculture of soybeans, and specifically herbicide resistant GMO varieties of this crop, are the foundation for this massive geopolitical transformation.
The social costs of the establishment of the Soy Republic, comprising the eastern watersheds of Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, are staggering, yet invisible to Northern media.
Below are translated extracts from a recent missive from Grupo de ReflexiÃ³n Rural (GRR), one of the few organizations calling attention to the events in these lands. Similar cases of murder, mass evictions, land-grabbing and bloody confrontation have become regular news from the advancing front of the Soy Republic.
Serapio Villasboa Cabrera was a member of the Paraguay Campesino Movement (MCP), and the brother of a prominent member of CONAMURI, an indigenous and campesino women's organization. He was brutally killed this month near his home by a death squad from the Citizens' Brigades. These brigades are reckoned to count more than 13,000 armed and trained operators who perform evictions, detentions, torture and murder upon those who do not accept a new, illegal order in the Paraguayan countryside. Just in Mr Villasboa's region of San Pedro, the brigades are responsible for the death of at least 10 campesinos.
Citizens' Brigades operate on behalf of large land owners and soya industrialists, who refer to them as "Garrote Commision". They work with the tacit approval of the interior ministry, and pretend to eliminate all indigenous and campesino organizations which continue to emerge as a response to growing unrest due to the rapid consolidation of land holdings by monopolic soya producers. It is estimated that soy plantations advance at a rate of a quarter million hectares per year (600,000 acres/yr), associated with some 90,000 campesino transfers to the urban poverty belt yearly.
Paraguay already devotes 64% of its arable land to soybean cultivation, and is the world's fourth exporter of this commodity. The government, under influence of international interests, is planning to expand this cultivation even further. There is no doubt that the promotion of soybean monoculture is at the root of the violence against and impoverishment of the rural communities throughout South America. Resistance against this monoculture has become a human rights struggle.
The Grupo de ReflexiÃ³n Rural (GRR), in Argentina, is trying to bring to the attention of the Northern world the growing human rights disaster wrought upon rural populations throughout the region by soybean cultivation. This crop is exported mostly to feed cheap meat for European consumption, as well as for the production of industrial foods for Northern populations.
GRR and MCP request the presence of international monitors to witness and question the policies of the Duarte Frutos government in Paraguay. MCP also requests international support for their urgent struggle to save lives and livelihoods in the indigenous and rural areas of their country.