Adolfo Pérez Esquivel: “Paraguay’s greatest war is Against Hunger and For its Sovereignty”

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Source: Resumen Latinoamericano | The Dawn News | November 15, 2016

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Argentinian human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner, stated in an interview with Efe that “Paraguay’s greatest war is against hunger and for its sovereignty” and rejected the attempts of militarization in the North of the country.

The activist, who visited Paraguay, said that the country should destine more resources to social policies instead of investing in the military.

“Security does not mean having more policemen and -women nor social control, but improving life conditions, education, health, housing and work”, he assured.

He also denounced that “indigenous peoples are being evicted of their territories to hand the lands to large corporations, for the massive exploitation of their resources”, he also added that at the same time that there are evictions of small farmers from their territories.

“Food sovereignty won’t be achieved by big corporations, but small and medium rural producers, and today they are being thrown out of their own territories” he said.

He added that urban reports indicated that by 2040, the 85% of the world’s population is going to live in large cities, and a symptom of this process is the expulsion of farmers to implement a “food control” by large agricultural enterprises, such as, Monsanto.

“Transgenic seeds and agrochemicals such as Glyphosate, open-pit mines, are causing huge damage that affects health, the activity of rural small producers and the population in general”, he explained.

According to the activist, this process is safeguarded by militarization, which allows to “keep people scared, control social movements and imprison peasants” who organize resistance processes.

Pérez Esquivel will participate in a social forum in the Paraguayan locality of Horqueta (in the North), one of the areas where the The Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) guerrilla operates and from where the Joint Task Force (FTC), a military and police convoy destined to fight the armed groups, was evicted.

He also stressed that in the country “there is no working hypothesis that includes a scenario of foreign attack”, and that “armed groups have been an excuse” to defend foreign interests on land and resources, and to protect soy enterprises or hydroelectric dams.

“Paraguay has always been a militarized country, since the dictatorship of (Alfredo) Stroessner, and under those who followed him to this day. The EPP is an excuse to justify the overthrow of President (Fernando) Lugo and the increase of the military budget”, he said.

As an example of this type of artificial conflicts, Pérez Esquivel referred to the Curuguaty case: the murder of 17 peasants during an eviction in 2012, which led to the parliamentary trial that ended with the removal of Lugo from the Presidency. Pérez Esquivel added that the judicial process in the Curuguaty case (in which 11 peasants were sentenced to 4 to 30 years in prison, last July) is “a complete aberration” and stressed that the case must be transferred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Nobel Prize Winner compared the Curuguaty case with the legal processes in Argentina and Chile in which several Mapuche indigenous leaders were condemned for defending their territory. The Antiterrorist Law was applied on them to increase the sentences.

“This situation weakens democracy, because democracy is much more than voting, it means rights and equality for all. If the poor are always going to be punished by those who have more, if the struggle of the people for their rights is repressed–that’s where we realize that democracies are more of a formal term than a real one”, he concluded.

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