Paraguay Peasant Movements Demands Access to Land, Production and Justice

By Alejandra Garcia on March 24, 2024

This week, a new march of indigenous and peasant movements went out from the plains to the cities to condemn the abuses of the government and call for the defense of democracy and food sovereignty. Under heavy rain and with indigenous people and women at the forefront, on March 20 and 21, thousands of compatriots carried out the traditional and thirtieth demonstration of the Peasant, Indigenous and Popular March, with the slogan “For land and production, against all injustices”.

The mobilization called by the National Peasant Federation (FNC) returned, as every year, to complain about the lack of responses from the Paraguayan State to small producers and the need to achieve once and for all the longed-for Agrarian Reform. “Now more than ever, we need public policies that deepen democratization and, above all, allow us to solve the structural problems of our country,” commented the leader of this organization, Marcial Gómez.

The current political situation was not ignored, and the speeches condemned the political and judicial persecution being carried out by the government against dissidents and opponents. The debates also included the need to allocate more cultivated areas for food production, amid a worsening climate crisis, which specially affects the peasant sector.

“We called on the different sectors of Paraguayan society to join this march to build an organized force capable of making deep transformations in our country, so that we can achieve development. We came with a lot of strength, enthusiasm, and with our basics for the struggle: saucers, spoons, elements of tereré, which is a traditional beverage in Paraguay, made of mate leaves,” Gómez added during an interview to the local press.

Local reports described the march as “an urban column that was joined by groups of peasant and indigenous children, young people and older adults. They marched in the rain and with the presence of political leaders such as the ousted Senator Kattya González, Senator Esperanza Martínez, Paraguay Pyahura Partyn president Ermo Rodríguez, and the general secretary of the FNC, Teodolina Villalba, among others.”

The slogan of the march, “Land, Production and Justice”, relates to the urgent need for access to land for the country’s rural communities, as well as the assistance needed to guarantee production, after the years of droughts that have plagued the country. In addition, obstacles to access to justice increase the inequality gap in the country. The criminalization of the struggle for land has led to the prosecution and conviction of several peasant leaders.

The peasants and indigenous people of Paraguay cannot demand the recovery of part of the millions of hectares that were illegally distributed to friends of power, during and after the dictatorship (1954-1989). According to social leaders and activists, this persecution is also taking place in the current political sphere.

To date, land distribution in Paraguay is one of the most scandalous in terms of inequality in the region: 85% of land is in the hands of landowners, foreign companies, and the government. Only 2% is owned by the population.

“We are pursuing a new homeland in which violence against women and girls will never exist again. We also want health, education, and production policies; we want to legalize our settlements and not be evicted. We yearn to have decent housing and work. To have sovereignty is to have a new homeland,” Teodolina Villalba said at the end of the march, before a crowd of 8 thousand people, who listened attentively and accompanied her with chants and applause.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – US