In a statement released on 22 June, the EI Regional Committee for Latin America called on EI affiliates to stand in solidarity with the democratically elected government in Paraguay and its people and to express their strong condemnation of the unlawful deposition of Paraguay´s President.
The country's democratically elected president, Fernando Lugo, was dismissed following an impeachment by the Senate on 22 June. This was done in extreme speed and Lugo was given just 24 hours to prepare his own defense.
The former vice president of the conservative Liberal Party, Federico Franco, took office that same night.
Gross historical inequalities
The political crisis was caused by the confrontation between peasant workers and police due to land conflict. In Paraguay, just 500 families own 90 per cent of the land, while 351, 000 laborer families have nothing.
This problem of unequal land distribution has been the subject of investigation by the Commission of Truth and Justice in Paraguay. However, comprehensive agrarian reform has yet to be addressed. Demands made by peasant workers and indigenous peoples have not interested large landowners in the agribusiness.
More than 200 policemen arrived on 15 June to Curuguaty, north of Paraguay, to evict a group of peasant workers occupying some land owned by Blas Riquelme, a former senator from the Colorado Party. Eleven peasant workers and six policemen were killed.
Right to earth and education
The EI Regional Committee stated that the peasant workers and indigenous people are demanding fair rights. It also asserted that Paraguay cannot suffer the same fate as Honduras in 2009, which would be a serious step backwards.
Therefore, the EI Regional Committee:
- Condemned the institutional breakdown of democratic legitimacy, and the unprecedented speed with which President Fernando Lugo was impeached by a parliament dominated by the land owning oligarchs
- Regretted the deaths of peasant workers and police officers in an incident that has yet to be clarified by the national authorities
- Urged that those farmers still in the mountains, any missing persons and family members, be guaranteed their safety, avoiding more Paraguayan families having to mourn the loss of loved ones due to acts of extreme violence
- Demanded land rights and a dignified life, including the right to free education, for peasant workers and the historically excluded indigenous population
- Urged EI affiliates in the region to mobilise and express their opposition to any attempted coup against democratically elected governments.
To download the EI Regional Committee statement please click here (pdf in Spanish)