Soy cultivation spells doom for Paraguayan campesinos

April 18, 2007, by April Howard & Benjamin Dangl: Rural eastern Paraguay used to be full of jungle, small farms, schools and wildlife. Now it is a green sea of soybeans. The families, trees and birds are gone. The schools are empty. The air is filled with the toxic stench of the pesticides like paraquat and 2,4-D used to protect the soy crops.
We drove through the sea of soy on a red dirt road. Meriton Ramírez was bringing us to the former community of Minga Porá, to the farm where his family used to live. Ramírez is a member of the Asociación de Agricultores de Alto Paraná (ASAGRAPA), a farmer's union spearheading the fight against the expansion of the soy industry.

Interview with Jorge Galeano, Movimiento Agrario y Popular (MAP), Vaqueria, Caaguazu, Paraguay Autumn 2006

In September 2006, the Movimiento Agrario y Popular (MAP), an organisation of small farmers and landless people from Caaguazu, Central Paraguay, finally gained a legal victory in a long battle. After several land occupations and consequent violent land evictions, the Supreme Court in Asuncion decided that INDERT, a public institution, had illegally sold land to Brazilian soy producers. The MAP formed a local political party to protect the interests of peasants in a corrupt and increasingly repressive political environment. Jorge Galeano, co-founder of the MAP, was interviewed shortly after the elections.

A courtcase on (in)justice for Silvino Talavera

In Paraguay because of massive pesticide spraying, people suffer acute and chronical diseases. Which sometimes leads to death. The struggle for justice for the 11 years old boy Silvino Talavera that died as the consequence of indiscriminate herbicide use on soy platations in his village, tells a story of corruption and pressure but also of courage and struggle.
A short chronological overview of the facts

The Development Model for Soy in Paraguay

The Development Model for Soy in Paraguay - Irresponsible, Unsustainable and Anti-Democratic
Asuncion, August 2006

The role of large scale soy production in the destruction of land, water, communities and ecosystems in Paraguay.

Indigenous Peoples' and peasant Farmers' organisations, community associations and other civil society groups in Paraguay who are signatories to this Declaration categorically reject the raw material export development model which has been condemned worldwide because of the environmental devastation it causes.
In particular, we reject large scale soy production which uses massive amounts of agro-chemicals, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, plunders our natural and cultural heritage, excludes and evicts communities from their land, concentrates power and decision-making about our national economy into the hands of a few, and thus undermines the sovereignty of our nation and its peoples and communities.

The battle of Tekojoja, Paraguay

In Paraguay, currently less than 2% of the population owns 70% of the land. The expansion of GM soy is now one of the main causes of land conflict, and consequently one of the principal reasons for the increasing number of landless peasants. Caaguazu is one of the frontier areas of soy expansion. The town of Vaqueria can be considered as the front line of the peasant resistance against the agro-industry.

Paraguay Sojero

[img_assist|nid=33|title=|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=103|height=150] The report 'Paraguay Sojero' exposes the reality of the agroexport model as applied in countries like Paraguay, for its rural population. It provides detailed examples of how people's lives and environments are destroyed by the advancement of 'green deserts', in this case soy plantations. It also shows how these people are resisting and fighting for another way of life.
This report is one of the few materials that exist in English about Paraguay even though it is the 4th largest soy exporter worldwide.

'Paraguay Sojero' is published by Grupo de Reflexion Rural (Argentina) and was presented at the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Biodiversity Convention in Curitiba (Brazil), March 2006.

[Download Paraguay Sojero ]

Silvino Talavera Campaign: Victory at high price

For an introduction and an overview of developments in the Silvino Talavera campaign, please see the article 'Paraguay: Silvino Talavera' on this site.

Asuncion, 29 November 2006: The Paraguayan Supreme Court has declared the extraordinary cassation request submitted by Lic. Fabio Daniel Baez Acosta, the defence lawyer of Alfredo Lautenschlager and Herman Schlender, as inadmissible. This means they will have to fulfil the sentence that was confirmed by the Appellation Tribunal of Encarnación and go to jail for two years for causing general risks and homicide. The sentence was confirmed without suspension.

Visit to Paraguayan embassy in Brussels, October 2006

During the writing of this article, there has been an important development. On October 31st, the conviction of the soy farmers responsible for the death of Silvino Talavera, was confirmed by the court in Encarnación. However, the case has not been won yet.

Monday, 30 October 2006 - A group of seven activists and campaigners went to the Paraguayan embassy in Brussels. One of the aims of the support group from the 'Silvino Talavera' campaign was to hand over a petition to ambassador Raul Vera Bogado about the 'Silvino Talavera' case and ask him about the enormous impact on the environment and human rights had by the industrial agricultural-export model that is gaining more hold in Paraguay.

Soy expansion triggers more violence in Paraguay

From Asuncion, Paraguay: An Maeyens, A SEED Europe, 20th of August, 2006: In Paraguay, the expansion of monocultures like soy leads to an agricultural model in which peasants have no stand. The soy production model is an export-orientated agro-industrial model that generates wealth for a few and poverty for many.
Almost half of the population in Paraguay consists of farmers, peasants and indigenous, while land concentration in terms of the percentage of land that is in the hands of large landholders, is one of the highest of the world. The lack of access to land causes poverty, malnutrition, social marginalisation, rural unemployment and the migration of hundreds of families. For this reason, land reform is one of the most important challenges that the country faces. Since July 2006 the MCNOC (National coordination platform of peasant organizations) reintensified their campaign for integral land reform. In response, communities have been violently repressed by militaries and police forces. Thousands of families are currently living under threat.

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