September 30, 2014
ITHACA, NY — Members of the Ithaca, New York-based Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR) and Oxfam America will converge this week in Washington, DC to advocate for justice in the Curuguaty land grab and massacre in Paraguay in 2012.
José Tomás Sánchez, a former minister in the Fernando Lugo administration in Paraguay and current student at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, will take part in the CUSLAR delegation and join representatives from Oxfam America in meetings with U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee staff, the Latin American Working Group and representatives from the U.S. Department of State and USAID.
In Paraguay’s Curuguaty region, a land conflict that had been simmering for years erupted in June 2012 with the violent eviction of families in which 11 peasants and six police were killed, precipitating the unconstitutional ouster of President Lugo. The land conflict remains unresolved, and there has been no official investigation into the deaths of the peasants. Affected communities are mobilizing to demand land and justice, and Oxfam is campaigning in Paraguay to support their demands.
“We grieve for the families of those murdered in Curuguaty that day, and we feel it is unjust that 300,000 people in Paraguay still don’t have access to land,” said Sánchez. “The Curuguaty case is another example of land grabbing undermining farmer livelihoods in Paraguay and around the world. We’re working to set a precedent in favor of human rights for this historically excluded population in the democratic process. We don’t want to see any reversals in the democratic institution-building that we have worked so hard for in Paraguay and around the region since the fall of the dictatorships.”
“While Latin American leaders quickly and unanimously denounced the massacre and subsequent ouster of President Lugo in Paraguay in 2012, the United States initially maintained a conspicuous silence, then tacitly supported Lugo’s successor,” said CUSLAR Coordinator Tim Shenk, who will accompany Sánchez to Washington, DC. “The U.S. can reverse this blunder and regain relevance in the region by calling for respect for the rule of law, due process and human rights in the Curuguaty case.”
“Access to land and justice is a critical issue in Paraguay today,” said Stephanie Burgos, senior policy advisor with Oxfam America. “Oxfam is supporting a broad coalition working for justice in Curuguaty in calling on the Paraguayan President to legally transfer the State land of Marina kue to the landless youth and families of Curuguaty, conduct an independent investigation into the June 2012 massacre, and bring those responsible for the massacre to justice and release community members detained under false pretenses.
CUSLAR is a Cornell University-based organization, founded in 1965, which seeks to promote justice and mutual understanding among the people of the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. CUSLAR is a project partner of the Center for Transformative Action.
For more background information on the Curuguaty case, see the following articles at cuslar.org:
Contact: Tim Shenk, CUSLAR, firstname.lastname@example.org. Office: 607-255-7293.