(Paraguay, 21st June): A conflict between landless peoples and police in Paraguay on June 15th was unleashed by a land ownership reintegration operation where thirty landless people died and hundreds were injured.
Paraguay has a long history of struggle over land. More than 50% of its rural population live in miserable conditions. The process of pushing peasants out of the countryside began about 30 years ago with the growth in size of land holdings, which went from 2000 to 200,000, and even one million hectares per landowner. These large landholdings are in the hands of foreigners or multinational corporations, mostly Brazilian landlords, who expand the cultivation of GMO soy, and impose their culture, language, money, and music on the educational system and the media in the regions where they live.
The grassroots movements that emerge from necessity are being used by the media to criminalise the peasant struggles. People citing peasant grievances are called terrorists. Paraguay has an antiterrorist law, which permits the use of force without real justification.