By: Leonardo Wexell Severo, reporting from Asunción, Paraguay / Source: brasildefato.com.br / The Dawn News / April 26, 2016.
An investigation by a journalist indicates that traffickers and politicians joined around common interests regarding the massacre in the lands of Marina Kué.
With a firm and determined look in his eyes, Argentine journalist José María Quevedo entered the room of the Court Trial of the Palace of Justice in Asuncion on April 15 to testify on the massacre that took place in Curuguaty, while peasants were trying to recover their lands, and in which 11 peasants and six policemen were killed on June 15, 2012. This massacre served as spearhead to the coup that ousted the President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo. The journalist, who is a member of the investigation carried out by the Platform for the Study and Investigation of Agrarian Conflicts (PEICC), went to the location of the massacre, where he collected many statements over months after the violent episode.
Slowly, because the exposition had to be translated to guaraní, Quevedo did a categorical and well-founded denounce on the execution of the farmers, the falsification of the crime scene —policemen put guns near the victims’ bodies— and the manipulation of information and proofs that were hidden by the former prosecutor of the case and current Vice Minister of Security Jalil Richid.
According to both the journalist and the former head of the National Anti-drugs Secretary, Francisco de Vargas, there was no serious investigation on the link between the Curuguaty massacre and narcotraffic, since the field is near a 40-hectare plantation of marijuana.
Upon seeing the relevance of the statement given by Quevedo, the defense requested him to provide more data on the involvement of drug traffickers in the killing, which was immediately challenged by the prosecution. The judges of the Trial Court backed the position of Public Prosecutions.
To allow the concealed information to come to light, the defense asked for a replacement, given that the process only gives voice to the prosecutor’s version and does not investigate the murder of the farmers. The judges rejected the request, saying that they will only judge the accusations against the landless and that the court will not examine the cause of the murders of peasants nor issues that have not yet been investigated, because “other channels” exist for that matter.
Due to the richness of the data and how didactic the exposition on the crime was, we reproduce the article of journalist José María Quevedo, published on September 2015, where he unveils the major fraud set up against these innocent people.
The Massacre of Curuguaty: The Drug Trafficking Lead that was Never Investigated
By: José María Quevedo / Ñanduty.com.py / The Dawn News
Two months after the procedure that ended with the life of 17 Paraguayans, the SENAD found an area of 40 hectares of marihuana, ready to be harvested, only 30 kilometres away from where the massacre took place. Francisco de Vargas, the then Anti-drugs Secretary, said that the possible links between the findings and the massacre should be investigated. Jalil Richid minimized the Minister’s sayings and ruled out that hypothesis.
A tall and blonde man wearing a police uniform comes in. The stars on his arm show that he has a high rank. Néstor Castro, one of the victims, had his jaw destroyed by a bullet. He’s waiting to be admitted into La Esperanza. The man approaches him and gives him a little card. “You are innocent. These people organized the massacre”, he says. Castro carefully stashes the card in one of his pockets.
One month later, he decides to hand in the evidence to Dr. Domingo Laino, President of the Platform for the Study and Investigation of Agrarian Conflicts (PEICC), an organization that assists the accused and investigates the causes of the massacre.
The card read: “Commissioner Arnaldo Sanabria Moran of Coronel Oviedo. Official Inspector of Drug Trafficking Aquiles Villalba”.
Arnaldo Sabaria was the leader of the operative that ended with the massacre on June 15. Conspicuously, Fernando Lugo named him Commander after Paulino Rojas quit. According to the statements of the survivants from the Special Operations forces (GEO), Sanabria was one of the officials that, against the resistance of Erven Lovera, insisted the most for the procedure to take place.
Aquiles Villalba Flores is an obscure character whose name and links to narco mafias and contraband came to light on 2015. Ezequiel de Souza, captured in La Paloma when he was transporting 2,000 kilos of cocaine in November 2014, told senators Wiens and Giuzzio that the narcos were only able to operate in the area with Carlos ‘Cabrito’ Villalba’s consent and that Aquiles was his right hand. Despite the seriousness of the denounce, neither Aquiles nor ‘Cabrito’ were investigated.
A settlement in the middle of a “corridor of illegality”
In the Mbaracayú and Morombi nature reserves there is an area that local fiscal agents call “the corridor of illegality”. Drugs, weapons, illegal businesses, everything happens there with no control whatsoever. When consulted for this note, the prosecutor of Curuguaty, Christian Roig, said that this is an area where illegality is the norm and the links between politicians, police and traffickers make it impossible for the Public Prosecutor’s Office to carry out its job.
Roig added that this organism has been filled with the sons and relatives of politicians that have as their main task the protection of mafias. Perhaps this information would explain why the Attorney General Javier Diaz Veron appointed agent Jalil Amir Rachid Lich —son of the former head of the National Republican Association, Bader Rachid Licchi— to investigate the slaughter that occurred in lands appropriated by the former president of the Colorado Party, Blas Riquelme.
It would also explain why he remains at the forefront of the cause despite the complete impartiality with which he has carried out the investigation. Jalil is also the nephew of Leila Rachid, current Minister of Itaipu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicanor Duarte Frutos, friend of Sarah Cartes and former member of the transition team of elected President Horacio Cartes.
The most curious thing (or perhaps not so curious) is that while Jalil was taking care of the investigation in Curuguaty, in Asuncion, Leila was lobbying in the media against the Ushuaia II protocol (one of the six points of the “accusatory libel” against Fernando Lugo). She questioned the presence of the Unasur chancellors in Paraguay and Bader (as member of the advisory council of the Colorado Party in the governing body) was trying to convince Lilian Samanuego of the need for a trial to overthrow Fernando Lugo.
Once again, the Rachids were playing a protagonic role when it came to execute a political trial. In 1999, after the Paraguayan march, Bader was the one who received the resignation of Raul Cubas Grau resignation.
The former Colorado deputy of Canindeyú, Julio Colman, revealed to this journalist and to the Spanish lawyer Aitor Martinez Jimenez, in 2012, that while he was visiting Curuguaty after the slaughter, Horacio Cartes textually asked him to “look out for Jalil”. “He’s the son of a friend”, said the then Presidential pre-candidate.
Narcos and a joint political goal?
Links between politics and drug trafficking were exposed by the murder of journalist Pablo Medina (one of the journalists that was present on June 15 in the crime scene of the massacre). The mastermind of the crime, Vilmar Marques Acosta, was the mayor of the district of Ypehú, and was also one of the heads of marijuana trafficking in the area. ‘Neneco’ belongs to the movement called Colorado Honor, led by President Horacio Cartes, and his political boss is deputy Cristina Villalba. There are photos in which he can be seen sharing social meetings with the deputy, which confirms his belonging to “clan”.
Whose were the 40 hectares of marijuana found in the property claimed by the Riquelmes? Who were affected by the recovery of Marina Kué by peasants and by the creation of a new settlement there? These are questions that the prosecutor Rachid Jalil never asked (or perhaps he did, and kept the answer to himself).
The truth is that the Public Ministry not only ruled out the hypothesis of De Vargas but also considered that the Riquelmes (who claimed the land where the planting was found belonged to them) were “victims”.
Even tough 3 years have passed, Ignacio Vera still fears for his life. On June 15, 2012 he received a warning: “Don’t go to Marina Kue. You’ll be killed”. According to Vera, his name was on a list in the hands of the police. In this list there were also other 4 names: Erven Lovera, Ninfa Aguilar, Avelino “Pindú” Espindola and Rubén Villalba. Lovera and Pindú died on Marina Kue. Ruben Villalba was shot. The bullet barely touched his skull and he managed to escape from the shooting alive. Once Vera was warned, he preferred not to get involved in the procedure in which he was going to participate as an official of the National Institute for Rural and Land Development. Ninfa Aguilar stayed at a prudent distance in the zero point and also saved her life. A few days later, she was removed from the cause and transferred to Santaní. On August 17, 2015, she was named Judge for Guarantees.
Due to the actors involved, the area where it happened and the interests that were at stake, the narco clue should have been investigated from the very beginning.
According to both the international community and the Paraguayan citizenship that follow the case closely, the Curuguaty slaughter should be investigated again —only this time, by an impartial prosecutor with no ties to the parties, who really seeks to clarify the facts and not conceal the real culprits.