International campaigners stand with farmers to demand solution to land grabbing case

The “Young with no land = Land with no future” campaign is co-ordinated by Oxfam, the Articulación Curuguaty, Landless Commission and Families and Victims of Curuguaty. The campaign received more than 37,000 signatures from 60 different countries to a petition demanding that President Horacio Cartes of Paraguay find a positive solution to the situation of landless young people in Curuguaty following a landgrab.

The total number of signatories of the petition to the President of Paraguay demanding a postive solution for farmers reached 37,574, according to the organizers of the campaign. They highlight the global reach of the campaign which asked President Horacio Cartes to give land to peasant families from Curuguaty.

In a recent letter, 11 US Congressmen stated that "justice for Marina Kue will help inspire new confidence in the accountability of public institutions [in Paraguay] and to move forward relations between our two countries.”

"Thanks to the international response we no longer feel alone in this fight," said Martina Paredes, from the Association Yvy ñande rekove. “We received the news of the [second] suspension of the process [to examine the events surrounding Curuguaty] yesterday afternoon. Now we expect President Cartes to commit to a solution for all families who fought Marinakue," she said, referring to the state land occupied by a local soybean production as a result of a fraudulent judicial process.  

"The public did their part, now we'll keep track of how many days pass until the government resolves this great injustice," said Oscar Lopez, director of Oxfam in Paraguay.

International concern

In the latest phase of the campaign, lawmakers and political leaders from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean sent communications to President Horacio Cartes asking for an urgent solution to this emblematic case of land grabbing. On November 12, a statement of Senator Patrick Leahy on Paraguay was read at the Plenary of the United States Senate, urging President Cartes to solve the Curuguaty case and give access to the land to the affected families. Almost simultaneously, President Cartes received a new letter signed by 11 US congressmen.

"I am pleased to hear that the government of Paraguay is negotiating to reach agreement with the families of Marina Kue. I hope that this initiative will bring justice to the families and communities affected, and will result in the acceleration of the implementation of the necessary reforms to create more equal access to land and opportunities", said US Congressman Sam Farr, who led the initiative in the United States Congress, after learning the seriousness of the case.

Global Citizenship

During six months of social mobilization, the initiative found the support of thousands of volunteers who collected signatures in support of the campaign, particularly in Spain, Germany, the United States and Latin America and spread the word on land grabbing and how it affects rural families in Paraguay. International persons of note, such as the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Argentina), and the music group Calle 13, leant their voices to the campaign.

Over 40 Latin American social civil society organizations sent letters to President Horacio Cartes expressing their concern that historical landgrabbing is still going on and is causing hunger and violating human rights in many countries. In Paraguay, citizens took part in a number of demonstrations, from public events to social network actions. Many of the signatures collected from within Paraguay come from the department of Canindeyú, where communities affected by the violent eviction of June 15, 2012 known as the Curuguaty ‘Slaughter’ are located, and where 17 people - six policemen and eleven peasants - lost their lives.

Systematic violence against the peasantry

"One of the cases that best illustrates threat to life and subsequent impunity is the slaughter of Curuguaty, where no formal investigation into the death of 11 peasants was carried out”, according to Enrique Gauto, Executive Secretary of the Coordinadora de derechos humanos del Paraguay, part of the joint organization Articulación por Curuguaty. This complaint was presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), during its 153rd session, at a thematic hearing requested by Paraguayan civil society.

The Curuguaty slaughter occurred on public land. The Marinakue event is part of what human rights organizations call (the) "systematic plan of executions in the struggle for peasant territory”. There are 115 cases of leaders and members of peasant organizations that have disappeared or been executed in Paraguay during the last 25 years of postdictatorial governments (1989-2013).

 

Notes to editors

Donated to the Paraguayan State in 1967, Marinakue lands remain held by a landowner company dedicated to soybean production. The company registered the property through a fraudulent judicial process.

This land grabbing case took place in the department of Canindeyú on the Brazilian border. This is an area of increased soybean production in Paraguay and the scene of frequent drug-related crimes and other illegal businesses. Families and young people who had occupied the state-owned land for over 10 years were victims of a violent eviction which killed 17 people - six police officers and eleven farmers.

A public trial demanded by Curuguaty farmers to analyse the case was scheduled for November 17, but was postponed for a second time to June 24, 2015, because the notifications for the parties had not been performed. Numerous local and international actors have alleged irregularities in the judicial process investigating the slaughter. The chief of which is that no Police Officer or Prosecutor was ever investigated, although there are strong indications that nine peasants were executed by police officers during the tragic eviction.

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Contact information

Carolina Thiede, Communications Officer in Paraguay. Cell phone: +595 976 936671. Office: +595 21 602011. Email: lcthiede@oxfamintermon.org