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The Human Rights and International Solidarity Mission that took place in Paraguay last week in Curuguaty department enabled Paraguayan peasant and human rights organizations to know in first hand how the region was hit after the June 15th Massacre.
This is what the member of the Organization for the Struggle for Land (OLT-Via Campesina), Luis Ruiz, who participated in the mission, said in an interview with Real World Radio.
“After listening to the families, we have a lot more information and I believe the massacre was planned and organized” by the Paraguayan police forces against the community, seeking a destabilization event as happened later.
Some of the victims were directly executed by the police officers with heavy weapons. There are testimonies that indicate the presence of a helicopter in the area from which the peasants were shot, while other deaths were caused by a lack of medical attention on time, said Luis.
This way, the official theory that this was a “confrontation” where armed peasants participated, an argument that was used in the impeachment against President Fernando Lugo, cannot be proven.
The Mission made up by FIAN International, the Global Campaign for an Agrarian Reform (Via Campesina Central America), the Research Group on Human Rights and Sustainability of UNESCO’s chair at the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Real World Radio (Friends of the Earth International), ANAMURI (Via Campesina South America), concluded that the decision to violently attack the peasants was made before the events.
“The disproportionate police presence, the indiscriminate use of police force with over 400 officers, 20 police cars, horses, a helicopter and ambulances from 4 am on June 15, is proof of the fact that the state institutions responsible were already predisposed to cause a situation of extreme violence”, reads the document written by the Mission.
The Paraguayan organizations that participated in the meeting include: The National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (MCNOC), the Organization for the Struggle for Land (OLT), the National Coordination of Working, Rural and Indigenous Women (CONAMURI), the Peoples’ Agrarian Movement (MAP) and the National Organization of Independent Native Peoples (ONAI).
Luis Ruiz said that the struggle for land in his country has a long record and the issue is shared by all Paraguayan peasant organizations. Since the Triple Alianza War, consisting in a coalition of the hegemonic forces in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay that massacred the Paraguayan civil population in 1864 and hindered the development of the country, “the lands have been distributed among the friends of those in power, including foreigners”, said Luis.
As a result of this and of Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship, the longest military dictatorship of the Southern Cone, today Paraguay is one of the most unequal countries in the planet in terms of land property.
“By fighting for land we are actually fighting for a real distribution of the country’s richness”, he concluded.
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