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“We are political prisoners, what they did and what they are doing to us is political persecution because nothing can justify our being in jail”, Ruben Villalba told Real World Radio. He and another 13 peasants were accused by prosecutor Jalil Rachid of the Curuguaty massacre on June 15, 2012.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Villalba is the main responsible for the incidents that led to the coup d’état in Paraguay, where 11 peasants and 6 police officers were murdered. He was accused with first degree murder, association for crime and invasion of private property. The preliminary hearing when judge Janine Rios requested the prosecutor’s office to bring the 11 peasants to public trial for the massacre was seriously questioned for being unconstitutional. The peasants lawyers even filed a claim against the Paraguayan state before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (ICHR) for violation of due process and for undue diligence by the prosecutor Jalil Rachid.
When asked about the reasons for his imprisonment, Villalba claims: “It was a set-up. But large land owners did not want to expel Lugo, they wanted to get rid of democracy. We lost democracy. This was not a confrontation, it was a massacre”.
In the time he has been in prison he went on a hunger strike several times with other prisoners to demand justice and to ask for home arrest. In the last hunger strike early this year, five peasants managed to get home arrest. But Villalba was the only one who was sent back to Tacumbu prison over accusations that dated back from five years ago.
The protest measures weakened Villalba’s health. He mentioned that he is losing sight in one of his eyes and he is suffering from a heart condition. “Despite all this, I will keep up the fight. There are already 4 million hectares of soy planted in Paraguay. Peasants and indigenous are losing all their lands and they are moving to the city’s outskirts in Asuncion. This is the kind of justice we have in Paraguay”.
On Thursday, 18th September at 9am, Villalba’s defense lawyer will file for Habeas Corpus before the Supreme Court of Justice.
Imagen: Qué pasó en Curuguaty
Este jueves se cumple un año del asesinato de la dirigente lenca Berta Cáceres en Honduras, y los grupos de Amigos de la Tierra Internacional (ATI) se movilizarán en decenas de países a partir de hoy, en el marco de una Semana de Acción que tendrá como cierre el 8 de marzo, Día Internacional de la Mujer.
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