Paraguay: march against US troops

On Jan. 17, members of Paraguayan social and political organizations marched in Asuncion and burned US flags to protest the presence of US soldiers in their country, and to condemn the Paraguayan legislature’s decision last year to let the troops in and grant them immunity from prosecution. The protests are being held on the 17th day of each month, with a larger national mobilization planned for this coming May, since a new contingent of US troops is expected to arrive in June. The protests are also being coordinated with activists in other countries. (Jaku’eke; ABC Color, Paraguay, Jan. 18)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 29

See our last post on Paraguay.

  1. Campesinos block roads
    Thousands of campesinos marched and blocked roads in eight departments of eastern Paraguay on Feb. 8, the first day of an open-ended strike to demand government support for campesinos, especially small-scale cotton producers. The producers are demanding that the government of President Nicanor Duarte Frutos fix a minimum sale price of 2,200 guaranies (about $0.36) per kilo of cotton. They are also asking the government to provide bags to gather the harvest, help in transporting the cotton to distribution centers and compensation for losses due to drought or attacks by diseases or pests. The protest was organized by the National Campesino Federation (FNC), which is also demanding that the government distribute land to landless campesinos and implement a national social plan to establish Paraguayan cotton processing factories.

    The FNC rejected a government offer to provide $50 subsidies to producers who are unable to sell their cotton at the minimum price. According to Luis Aguayo of the National Coordinating Committee of Campesino Organizations, the government’s offer has political implications, given the ruling Colorado Party’s upcoming Feb. 19 primary elections, in which Duarte will face off against Alfredo Dominguez Stroessner. Dominguez is the grandson of ex-dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled Paraguay from 1954-1989 and is currently exiled in Brazil.

    FNC secretary general Odilon Espinola said an estimated 30,000 campesinos participated in the protests; police put the number at 1,150. (Reuters, AP, Feb. 8; Prensa Latina, Feb. 10) On Feb. 10, the FNC lifted the strike and roadblocks after reaching an agreement with the government. The government pledged to absorb the debts which small-scale cotton producers incur to purchase agrochemicals, and to promote a debt refinancing program. (PL, Feb. 10)

    Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 12