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On Saturday early morning two masked persons murdered Paraguayan peasant leader Vidal Vega, member of the Landless Peasant Commission that fights to obtain the Marina Cue plot of land in Canindeyu department, 35 km from Curuguaty where 11 landless peasants were killed on June 15th. The incident was dubbed as the Curuguaty massacre.
The leader was a key aide in the investigation to clarify the massacre, where six police officers were also killed.
Paraguay.com reports that hitmen knocked on Vidal Vega’s door at 4 am and without saying a word they killed him with rifles. The leader died instantly.
A press release issued by the National Coordination of Rural and Indigenous Women Workers (CONAMURI) highlights the cruelty with which the hitmen killed Vidal Vega in front of his family.
“This is another case of criminalization of the social struggle. The State, which provides no answers to the demands of the peasant sector that has historically sought a piece of land to live, is responsible for this”, reads CONAMNURI’s press release.
According to the newspaper ‘Periódico de Interpretación y Análisis E’a’, Vega became the leader of the Landless Commission after the massacre of June 15. “He was recently in charge of the proceedings so that families could access land. The murder aims to intimidate the community”.
Several Paraguayan media reported that doctor Domingo Laino, chair of the Platform of Studies and Research of Peasant Conflicts (PEICC), claimed that Vega was a key witness of the Curuguaty massacre. He was an important aide of the Platform, who published a thorough study in October, that concluded that in the June 15 massacre police carried out summary executions and there was lack of medical assistance to the injured detainees.
Early in the morning of June 15, a big police operative entered the Marine Cue tract of land to evict nearly 50 landless peasants (including women and children) that demand the land, which has been illegally occupied by the livestock and agriculture company Campos Morombi. The peasants claim that the land belongs to the State and that it should be destined to the agrarian reform. The violent police operative on the ground, ended with a confrontation where 11 peasants and six police officers were killed.
The PEICC report says that neither the police officers nor the peasants that were consulted for the investigation or who spoke to the media could identify who began shooting, or at least which side started it. Some of the testimonies say that infiltrated gunmen began the shooting. This hypothesis is one of the most supported in Paraguay, even by members of the former administration of Fernando Lugo, who claim that the so called “Curuguaty massacre” was created to overthrow the president.
Meanwhile, the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations (CLOC-Via Campesina) is calling the attention on the murder of Vidal Vega “where the Police has announced the capture of the purported murderer, according to testimonies of neighbors”. “This person could be an escape goat to cover the true responsible behind the crime”.
“We demand a thorough and serious investigation into this incident perpetrated as part of the social struggle, we demand that the responsible be sent to prison and we demand justice for Vidal Vega”, says CLOC. “We call for international solidarity to expose, through specific actions, the Curuguaty massacre, which is behind the impeachment that led to the Parliament’s coup d’état in Paraguay”.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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