NOVEMBER 2014 UPDATE:
US Congress joins social movements in call for justice in Paraguay
What happened in Curuguaty? This question has become the rallying cry of civil society and international human rights organizations, who want a full investigation into the deaths of 11 peasants and six police officers on June 15, 2012 on Paraguayan state-owned land.
Many analysts say this massacre is yet another example of Paraguay’s long history of injustice around the land distribution in the country. Others add that the event was planned to create a political crisis for President Fernando Lugo, who in 2008 defeated the conservative Colorado Party after 61 years of rule. The tragedy of Marina Kue was used to force an unconstitutional impeachment against Lugo. For all of these reasons, the case deserves a full and proper investigation, which is far from reality now.
Here is what we know about what happened: More than 300 police officers in riot gear arrived on June 15, 2012 to expel a group of 60 landless farmers, including women, children and elders, who had occupied a piece of land months earlier.
The result of the June 15 police intervention was a shootout that left six officers and 11 civilians dead. The police surrounded the peasants, and no one seems to know how the shooting started. But what is clear is that it ended with multiple human rights abuses against civilians, including people who were visiting their relatives that day and were not involved in the occupation.
CUSLAR supports the Paraguayan coalition Articulación Curuguaty, which is trying to get to the bottom of what happened and demanding that justice be done for all parties.
Find more information here:
CUSLAR Press Release
This speech, given by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on the floor of the Senate on November 12, 2014, gives a historical context for land-related conflicts and inequalities in Paraguay. Senator Leahy notes, “This case offers the Paraguayan Government an important opportunity to conduct a thorough, independent investigation of the events of June 15, prosecute and punish those responsible for the killings and injuries of the farmers and police officers, and enable poor farmers in that community to acquire legal rights to land and put it to productive use to feed their families.”
The letter, written by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), encourages the Paraguayan government to “openly, fairly and justly address the forced eviction in Marina Kue on June 15, 2012” and “continue to move forward with the implementation of agrarian reform policies.”
CUSLAR press release, September 30, 2014
by José Tomás Sánchez
by Diana T. Folla
Interview of Mirta Moragas Mereles, by Eric Krasnow