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María Olmedo, her brother Luis, and Dolores Lopez are three of the 12 Paraguayan landless people who were arrested in a police operation on June 15, where nearly 50 peasants who were camping in “Marina Cue” plot were evicted, around 35 kilometers from Curuguaty, in Canindeyu department. Eleven landless peasants and six police officers were killed that day.
Real World Radio interviewed Maria, Luis and Dolores in a regional prison in Coronel Oviedo, in Caaguazu department. We also spoke with Felipe Urbina, who was jailed while he was helping Arnaldo Quintana (also detained in Coronel Oviedo), who had a serious bullet injury in his stomach.
Maria, Luis and Dolores are above 20 years old. They were victims of police brutality on June 15. When the police assaulted, they tried to run, but did not succeed. Dolores is Luis’s girlfriend. She was in Marina Cue visiting him. Their three year-old child was with them. He is now being taken care of by his grandmothers.
Luis told us that the police arrived in Marina Cue from two different sides: Route 10 and the ranch ’La Paraguaya’. The peasant claims that he did not see the confrontation because he ran and was caught by the police. He was handcuffed and beaten for hours. In the van that took him to Caraguaty, he claims that a police officer was beating him in his face with a gun and another one with a rifle. When he arrived the Caraguaty prison they were aiming at him and threatening to kill him.
Several peasant testimonies collected during a human rights and solidarity mission in Curuguaty, where Real World Radio participated in early September, agreed that the landless peasants of Marina Cue had information that this land could be delivered to them.
Juana Evangelista Martínez is the widow of Arnaldo Ruiz Diaz, one of the murdered peasants. She was left with six children and a small loaned plot of land. She has barely been able to feed her children. Her husband called her on June 15 at around 6am to tell her to get ready to celebrate because they were getting those lands.
Some relatives of the dead peasants and a landless peasant involved in the Marina Cue confrontation said that it is possible that some of the main leaders of the camp site had information before June 15 about a possible police operative, but they failed to share it with all the peasants.
Avelino Espinola, who was in the struggle for land from the start in 2003, was killed in the confrontation.Other leaders like Ruben Villalba is now fugitive. However, most peasants asked said they did not know whether the leaders had information of a potential dangerous situation and that they trusted them.
Felipe Urbina is also imprisoned in Coronel Oviedo. He claims he was not in Marina cue, but in a meeting in Curuguaty. His account of the facts is that he saw Arnaldo Quintana on Route 10 in the morning hours crying for help. He had a serious injury in his stomach. He tried to aid him when the police assaulted him.
Urbina told Real World Radio that he was tortured and received death threats far from the area where the landless campsite was. He was in hospital for three days, where he received threats from the police. The peasant, his lawyer and neighbors claim he was not in Marina Cue and demand his release. However, there is evidence against him: damage in his eyes certified by a doctor as a result of the tear gases, which would imply he was actually there. He said he was sprayed with gases on his face when he stopped to help Arnaldo Quintana, to plant evidence against him, said Urbina, who managed to save his life.
Photo: Radio Mundo Real
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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