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Over 260 young people have been left without land after a land grab in Curuguaty, Paraguay. 37,572 people asked President Horacio Cartes to give the farming families of Curuguaty the land they demand. The world has re-acted and now President Cartes must act. He must give the families the land they need to sustain their futures. Together with the families of Curuguaty we ask President Cartes to make their dreams come true. And we will continue to work with the people of Curuguaty until this happens.
Over the past 10 years, land grabs and the lack of governmental support has forced 585,000 young people from the farmlands of Paraguay.
Young people such as Dolores and Luis have been left with no land on which to grow crops or live within their community, Curuguaty. The two of them could build their future on a publicly owned stretch of land of 2,000 hectares that is currently in the hands of a company that produces soy – a product that generates huge profits and which is exported to Europe and China where it is used as biofuel, animal forage and human food.
Oxfam, the affected communities and Articulación Curuguaty, formed of over 40 organizations representing the civil society of Paraguay, have launched a campaign to support the young people and farming families of Curuguaty who have lost their lands to claim their right to a place where they can cultivate their own food and build a future for themselves.
What happened in Curuguaty?
The company of a landowner - Farming families without land - Public land to which farmers have claimed a right but which an agribusiness owner has claimed as his property - A violent eviction - Seventeen people killed.
These are some of the facts that describe what happened in Curuguaty, a small city in eastern Paraguay, near the Brazilian border. In this region, farmers are rapidly losing their lands to soy crops – a crop which is rapidly expanding because taxes on it are very low while profits are huge for landowners, who grow this and other crops for export.
This could be just another example of land-grabbing, but it is not. There are several factors that make Curuguaty an exceptional case:
- In Paraguay 80 percent of agricultural and farming land is in the hands of 1.6 percent of landowners.
- There are political and economic elites with substantial influence on government, courts and companies with vested interests linked to this model of economic growth.
- There are many cases of land grabs in Paraguay where the land is predominantly used to grow soy – a crop which occupies 3.5 of the 3.8 million hectares of all arable land in the country.
Young people speak up
Rodolfo Castro: “We value land because she is like a mother to us, she gives us life. To those who cannot understand this we tell them that land is our mother because she gives us life and nourishes us.There are many young people in our same situation, but instead of thinking of ways to obtain land, they go live in the big cities”.
Ramona González: “I ask President Horacio Cartes to grant us the land we claim because we know these are public lands. What’s more, I demand he gives it to us because we want to work the land. There is no possible future without land. I also ask him to free my husband."
Dolores Peralta: "They told us they would give us the land right away, but things turned out differently. We came here to cultivate the land; that is what we wanted to do. For those who cannot understand it I will tell them the following: for us, land is our mother because it gives us life. If we do not have land, we do not have a future."