Days after a deadly eviction of peasants by paramilitaries, anti-privatization protests are shaking Paraguay. Neither have made any significant international media coverage. Cuba's Prensa Latina reports June 27 that a national mobilization has coverged on Asuncion, the capital, demanding the government halt the pending Law 1615 that calls for further privatization of state services. The protesters have blocked roads and filled streets with massive marches, paralyzing the capital. Led by the National Front in Defense of National Heritage and Public Property, the National Small Farmers Federation, the Front in Defense of Life and Sovereignty, and the Coordination of Small Farmers Organizations, protesters pledge the campaign will escalate if the government goes through with further privatizations.
A little-reported story from Paraguay on an eviction of peasants from contested lands by the private gunmen of local big land-owners (apparently Brazilians), backed up by the army and police. It is the biotech opponents who are distributing this news, as the landowners are seeking to plant genetically-modified soy. As we recently noted, there is a growing US military presence in Paraguay at the moment. It is ostensibly there to train and back up Paraguayan security forces in a crackdown on supposed Islamic terror networks in the country, but here is an ugly taste of how the new prowess could be used. Our friend Javiera Rulli of Argentina's Grupo de Reflexion Rural (GRR) provides this report:
From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), June 20:
The local leader of Hamas was arrested in an often lawless frontier area where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. Brazilian and Paraguayan news agencies confirmed June 17 that Saiel Bashar Yahya Al Atary and 21 others described as Islamic terrorists had been arrested by Brazilian federal police in the city of Foz de Iguazu. The men were charged with being part of an international ring that committed credit card fraud, counterfeited documents and was involved in drug trafficking.
There was an old joke back in the '70s: Getting Nixon for burglary was like getting Hitler for tax evasion. Now it seems life imitates black humor. From the BBC, June 7:
Mixed day in court for Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet may be charged with tax evasion but not over human rights abuses committed when he was Chile's military ruler, a court has ruled.
On May 27, Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) Paraguay condemned an agreement approved by the Paraguayan Congress which will allow US troops into the country for an 18-month training and advisory mission from June 1, 2005 through December 31, 2006. The agreement grants full immunity from prosecution to all US personnel involved in the mission. Congress approved the agreement--apparently at the end of last year--with no debate and behind closed doors, and the public was largely unaware of it, according to SERPAJ Paraguay. "No one knows the extent of these accords and the dangers of a US strategy to violate them," the group warned.
While Chilean ex-Minister of the Interior, Jose Miguel Insulza, assumes the post of Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, Chile’s indigenous Mapuche bring their case to that same organization, accusing the Chilean government of human rights violations. Having exhausted resources for the Mapuche leader’s defense, the denunciation is being presented before the OAS with the objective of restoring the honor of the Mapuche authority, and securing an end to the use of anti-terrorism legislation against the Mapuche people.
Brazil's ruling Workers' Party rejected a claim by a leading weekly magazine that Colombia's FARC guerrillas donated $5 million to its candidates for the 2002 elections. In an eight-page cover story, Veja magazine said that it had been given access to secret documents of Brazil's Intelligence Agency (ABIN) showing that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) offered aid. Veja said that a FARC representative in Brazil, Father Oliverio Medina, made the offer during a meeting on April 13, 2002, at a small farm outside Brasilia. A secret service agent infiltrated the meeting. In a statement March 12, Workers' Party President Jose Genoino contradicted the Veja story, headlined "FARC's tentacles in Brazil," calling it irresponsible and stating that the allegations lacked proof. He said that Veja failed to print any documents showing financial links between the Workers Party and FARC. (Reuters, March 13)