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Another peasant leader was killed on Wednesday 20 February, exactly two months before the country’s elections after a coup d’état that ousted President Fernando Lugo.
The peasant, Benjamin “Toto” Lecano, was the coordinator of the organization “Dr. Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia” based on Concepcion and San Pedro departments. Paraguayan peasant organizations that struggle for land, human rights and food sovereignty have described Lezcano’s death as part of a genocide strategy against the social protest.
Paraguay is under a de facto regime considered illegitimate by the international community. The country has been withdrawn its membership from Mercosur and UNASUR.
The Human Rights Coordinator of Paraguay (Codehupy) said the leader’s death makes 129 the total number of murders in the struggle for land since 1989. CONAMURI has expressed that in the case of Lezcano there was the same “modus operandi” than in the case of Sixto Perez, murdered on September 1, 2012 in Puentesiño (Concepcion department) and of Vidal Vega, murdered on December 1 in Curuguaty. The aim seems to be the same: to leave the peasant organizations leaderless.
Not to mention the fifteen peasants killed in Curuguaty on June 15, 2012.
This was followed by a hunger strike of political prisoners of Curuguaty, CONAMURI’s coordinator Magui Balbuena told Real World Radio.
Magui said that Concepcion department is under risk of being invaded by soy monoculture plantations by local, Brazilian and transnational corporations. Many cattle ranchers in Concepcion are now taking up the soy agribusiness.
The Paraguayan presidential and legislative elections will take place on April 20. These incidents seem to clear the path for the return of a conservative government. Luis Aguayo, leader of the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (MCNOC) talked about the recent peasant murders and said ther is a plan of selective murder.
Aguayo explained to Radio Cardinal (in an interview cited by E’a website) that recently the murders are not just of peasant members of organizations but of peasant leaders.
The MCNOC mentioned some of the peasant leader that were killed: Santiago Martinez leader of the Paraguayan Peasant Movement (MCP) of Caaguazu Department; Sindulfo Britez, leader of Mbujapey distrit, in Paraguari department; Mariano Roque Jara of Santa Catalina community in Curuguaty; Vidal Vega and lastly Bejamin Lezcano.
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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