Paraguay: Agribusiness protests landless farmers

Agribusiness and landowners’ associations in Paraguay began two days
of demonstrations around the country Monday, demanding a stop to
invasions of large estates by landless farmers. The measure drew fire
from social organisations, especially small farmers’ associations. The
landowners parked tractors and other agricultural machinery along the
sides of roads early Monday morning, mainly in the farming departments
(provinces) of San Pedro in central Paraguay and Itapúa and Alto
Paraná in the southeast.

The call for the demonstration was issued
several weeks ago by the Coordinadora Agrícola del Paraguay (CAP),
which was joined by two other rural associations, the Unión de Gremios
de la Producción (UGP) and the Asociación Rural de Paraguay (ARP), as
well as the Federación de la Producción, la Industria y el Comercio
(FEPRINCO), a trade and industrial association. The organisers hope to
line at least 1,000 km of roads with their machinery at some 60 spots
in the country’s most productive agricultural areas, although the
so-called “tractorazo” will not include roadblocks. The leaders of the
associations organising the protest are demanding a stop to land
occupations by groups of small farmers, who have especially targeted
large-scale producers of transgenic soybeans. “Violence is not the
route for solving the country’s problems,” said UGP president Héctor
Cristaldo, speaking along the highway that runs between the towns of
Hernandarias and Salto del Guairá, in Alto Paraná. “What is needed is
a huge national demonstration that brings together all the sectors,”
he added. Alto Paraná in the southeast has the largest number of
Brazilian soybean producers, who are opposed by small farmers because
of the indiscriminate use of toxic agrochemicals, which have caused
death and illness among children and adults, water pollution,
destruction of ecosystems and loss of traditional food resources in
rural communities, according to the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights in Geneva. Cristaldo said the demonstration was
not against the administration of Fernando Lugo, but was aimed at
drawing the attention of the three branches of the state to the
situation of violence and insecurity in the country. “Fights and
clashes will only bring mourning to Paraguay,” he said. The
Convocatoria Ciudadana citizen movement and FEPRINCO will hold their
own demonstrations in the capital Tuesday. The Frente Social y Popular
(FSP), which groups a variety of social organisations, especially
peasant farmers’ movements, rejected the landowners’ mobilisation as
“authoritarian.” “This demonstration is cloaking itself in slogans
designed to lie to Paraguayan society, like ‘work for everyone’, which
is ironic given that the soybean growers exploit their workers,” FSP
leader Marcos Ibáñez told IPS.

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

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