A new season of soya, a new season of conflict
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A new season of soya, a new season of conflict

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John Ahni Schertow
October 31, 2008
 

Tension and conflict is growing hand in hand with the start of the new soya season in Paparaguay.

Peasant organizations have begun to increase pressure on the government for land reforms, food sovereignty, and the end to pesticide use which gravely impacts their communities.

In turn, the farmers have been repeatedly met with violence: Numerous evictions have taken place, at least two leaders have been murdered, and hundreds of peasants have been tortured, beaten and arrested. This is despite Paraguay’s new government, which has stated a commitment to protect small farmers against soya plantations, pesticide spraying and deforestation.

La Soja Mata (Soya Kills) is putting together a series of video reports on the conflicts and various other events related to the soya industry in Paraguay. Here’s a handful of the reports they’d made so far:

Please note: these reports are in Spanish, Guarani and Castilliano languages, however it is still quite easy to understand what is said. Below the reports you will find a list of emails and a sample letter (c/o www.mediaisland.org) you can send to express your support for the campesinos and their struggle.

… More videos available at www.lasojamata.org/en/node/230. If you’d like to learn more about the struggles against soya, visit www.aseed.net (English), www.baseis.org.py (Spanish), www.grr.org.ar (Spanish), www.wrm.org.uy (English)

Sample Letter (Please send the Spanish version below)

Dear Sir/Madam,
Re: Please protect Paraguay’s communities and environment against soya monocultures

I was very pleased to hear about President’s Lugo’s stated commitment to protect small farmers against soya plantations, including against pesticide spraying and to stop deforestation. However, I am deeply concerned to hear about the increasing violence against peasant organisations that are mobilising against pesticide spraying in the soya monocultures, while arguing for a new agricultural policy that protects small farmers and food sovereignty as well as the environment. Two peasant leaders – Sindulfo Martínez member of the organisation MCP and Bienvenido Melgarejo of the organisation ASAGRAPA have recently been murdered. There are reports of a ‘hit list’ with the names of fifty peasant leaders who fear that they could be murdered next. In the past weeks, the courts and the police have been involved in the eviction of peasant camps which have been lawfully set up on the margins of, not on, soya plantations, resorting to laws which exist to prevent criminal offences. People have been unlawfully evicted, detained, criminalised and tortured.

With this letter, I want to show my strong support to the main demands of peasant movements and civil society organisations in Paraguay: that pesticide spraying of soy monocultures must be banned and effectively stopped. The lands illegally sold to agribusiness companies must be returned to the landless Paraguayan peasants. I urge you to stop the eviction orders and repression against peasant mobilisation. The two recent murders and all reports of police violence and torture must be fully investigated and those responsible must be held to account. The families of those who have been murdered must receive financial compensation. The government must take immediate action and investigate the death threats against peasant leaders. The first step for this is to dissolve the so called “Citizen Security Commissions”, commonly called “Garrote Commissions”. These groups are the main actors of the para-police violence against social organisations in the rural areas.

In front of the urgent situation of poverty and environmental devastation in Paraguay, the government must initiate a programme to support peasant farming and food sovereignty, rather than further sacrificing Paraguay’s communities and environment to produce animal feed and agrofuels for export. Please let me know what your plans are for addressing this urgent situation, in order to avoid more violence and human rights violations, including more killings of peasants, and to protect communities and the environment from soya monocultures.

Thank you,
Yours faithfully,

Spanish Version

Asunto: Por favor, proteja a las comunidades paraguayas y al medio
ambiente de los monocultivos de soja

Estimada Sra., Estimado Sr.,

Ha sido muy satisfactorio para mí, saber acerca del compromiso del Presidente Lugo para proteger a los pequeños campesinos en contra de
las plantaciones de soja, así como de las fumigaciones conpesticidas y la deforestación. Sin embargo, me preocupa seriamente cuando escucho acerca de la escalada de violencia dirigida hacia las organizaciones campesinas que se movilizan en contra de las fumigaciones de pesticidas sobre las poblaciones y a favor de una nueva política agraria que proteja a los pequeños campesinos, la soberanía alimentaria y el medio ambiente.

Dos líderes campesinos -SindulfoMartínez de la organización, Movimiento Campesino Paraguayo- MCP (Vía Campesina-PY) y Bienvenido Melgarejo de la organización Asociación de Agricultores de Alto Paraná- ASAGRAPA han sido recientemente asesinados. Hemos tenido noticias acerca de una “lista negra” con nombres de unos cincuenta líderes campesinos que temen ser los próximos asesinados. Jueces y la policía han estado en estas últimas semanas implicados en el desmantelamiento de campamentos campesinos establecidos legalmente en las márgenes, y no dentro, de las plantaciones de soja, amparándose en leyes de prevención del crimen. Los campesinos han sido ilegalmente expulsados, detenidos, criminalizados y torturados. Con esta carta quiero demostrar mi enérgico apoyo a las dos principales demandas de los campesinos y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil de Paraguay: Las fumigaciones con agrotóxicos de los monocultivos de soja deben ser prohibidas y detenidas de manera efectiva. Las tierras vendidas irregularmente a los agroempresarios deben ser devueltas a los campesinos sintierras paraguayos. Exijo frenar la actual ola de desalojos y represión a las movilizaciones campesinas. El desalojo por recursos de amparo preventivo es una medida jurídica irregular. Los dos recientes asesinatos y todos los reportes de violencia policial y tortura deben ser investigados a fondo, y sus responsables deben ser penalizados. Las familias de los asesinados deben ser compensadas económicamente. Así también el gobierno debe actuar de forma inmediata y frenar las amenazas de muerte que penden sobre los dirigentes campesinos. El primer paso para ello es atender a las demandas de las organizaciones de desarticulación de las “Comisiones de Seguridad Ciudadana”, comúnmente denominadas “Comisión garrote”. Estos grupos son los principales protagonistas de violencia parapolicial contra las organizaciones sociales en el campo. Frente la urgente situación de pobreza y devastación ambiental del campo paraguayo, el gobierno debe iniciar inmediatamente un programa de apoyo a la agricultura campesina y la soberanía alimentaria. Basta ya del sacrificio de las comunidades campesinas e indígenas del Paraguay y del medio ambiente para mantener un modelo agroexportador sojero que sólo produce alimento para animales y agrocombustibles.

Email Contacts

1. Presidencia de la República del Paraguay Excelentísimo Don
Fernando Lugo Méndez, Presidente de la República del Paraguay
e-mail: presidente@presidencia.gov.py
webmaster@presidencia.gov.py

2. Fiscal General del Estado (Attorney General):
Rubén Candia Amarilla
Email: fisgral@infonet.com.py
Fax: (595 21) 415 5000 int 127

3. Secretaria del Ambiente (SEAM) S. E. José Luís Casaccia , Ministro, Secretario Ejecutivo
Paraguay presidencia@senave.gov.py
secretaria_general@senave.gov.py

4. S. E. Rafael Filizzola, Ministro – Chile y Manduvirá
ministro@mdi.gov.py
vmseguridad@mdi.gov.py
sgeneral@mdi.gov.py

5. Ministerio de Justicia y Trabajo S. E. Blas Llano, Ministro
Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Estados Unidos
Tel + 595 21 447010, + 595 21 493209, fax + 595 21 208469
mjt@mjt.gov.py

6. Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia
S. E. Candido Vera Bejarano, Ministro Presidente Franco 479
Tel + 595 21 441036, central + 595 21 451316/ 447304
Viceministerio de Agricultura: vagricultura@mag.gov.py
Secretaría General: secretariagral@mag.gov.py

7. Fiscalía Gral. del Estado
Dr. Rubén Candia Amarilla
fiscaliageneral@ministeriopublico.gov.py

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