Massacre of Curuguaty, Paraguay

On June 15th, 2012, 11 landless peasants and 6 policemen were killed in Curuguaty, as the peasants were violently evicted from Marina Kue in order to sow transgenic soybeans by the Campos Morombí company.


Description

On 15 June 2012, 11 landless peasants and 6 policies were killed in Curuguaty, a city in the north of Paraguay, as a consequence of a violent eviction of peasants who had occupied the lands of Marina Kue [1]. The day before, June 14th, the criminal court judge of Curuguaty had ordered the takeover of Marina Kue as a property claimed by the company Campos Morombí. Yet, the company was not entitled to those lands and, hence, the demand was not legitimate [2]. Legal measures had been taken by peasants since 2004 to formalize their rights to Marina Kue. According to them, those lands were allocated by agrarian reform. Nonviolent occupations – which were followed later by state-led evictions– had taken place repeatedly by peasants to grow their own food and preserve their rights to land. On June 15th, 2012, a large group of armed police entered the peasant campsite, and the conflict escalated from verbal confrontation to a violent dispute, leaving 17 dead victims (6 policemen and 11 peasants) and several injured. Unsurprisingly, the testimonies from the peasants and the police contradict each other when describing the sequence of events. Several violations of human rights have been reported, mainly the loss of life resulting from abusive state authorities. On the same day of the eviction, Miguel Correa, a 20-year old student was wrongly arrested when trying to see what happened to his friend in the hospital of Curuguaty. He was accused of murder and charged with 30 years of prison. Three days after the eviction, 63 peasants were criminally charged by the Public Prosecutor.  In October 2012, evidence was presented to the Public Prosecutor about the  human rights violations against peasants, but it was not considered [1]. The massacre of Curuguaty led to a human rights and political crisis in the country. It was followed by the destitution of president Fernando Lugo Méndez and the subsequent electoral victory of the opposing party, the Colorado.  The irregularities during this process have been pointed out by different organizations, and some have even suggested that the massacre was part of a planned strategy to carry out of a coup d’état in the country [3]. Lugo had previously attempted to limit the use of GM seeds. The following Colorado government favoured the cultivation of GMOs in the country.

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Basic Data
NameMassacre of Curuguaty, Paraguay
CountryParaguay
ProvinceCanindeyú
SiteCuruguaty
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Soybeans
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsEviction of peasants from Marina Kue, 2000 hectares, previously occupied under the land reform. The lands of Marina Kue had, in the past, belonged to the company “La Industrial Paraguaya” and were given to the state in 1967. The government allocated them to the land reform. Yet, Campos Morombí claimed the ownership of these lands with no evidence, which led to the described massacre.

The neighbouring lands to Marina Kue were soya plantations. The first soya expansion in Canindeyú, the region were Curuguaty is located, took place during the 1980s, following the introduction of soya in the country during the previous decade. After a short stagnation, the cultivation of soya increased again after the mid-1990s. Between 1984 and 2001, the harvested soy in Canindeyú grew by 150-200 % [4].

Two years after the conflict took place, relatives of the victims reported the expansion of transgenic soya plantations on the site of the massacre. According to them, Campos Morombí, owned by the family of the Colorado party member Blas Riquelme, was renting the land to a soya-producing company.
Project Area (in hectares)2000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population65,000-200,000
Start Date15/06/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesCampos Morombí from Paraguay - company who put a demand upon the lands of Marina Kue
Relevant government actorsSupreme Court of Justice

Armed police
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCODEHUPY http://www.codehupy.org.py/

CLOC-Via Campesina Paraguay https://clocvcparaguay.wordpress.com/

Amnistia Internacional Paraguay http://amnesty.org.py/

Oxfam Internacional Paragay https://www.oxfam.org/

Survival - Friends of the Earth Paraguay https://www.facebook.com/SobrevivenciaPy/

Plataforma de Estudio e Investigación de Conflictos Campesinos.

Comisión de Familiares de Víctimas de Curuguaty.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Deaths
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Repression
Under negotiation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Peasant were very violently evicted. Subsequently, in the scandal, the progressive president Fernando Lugo lost the presidency of the country.
Sources and Materials
References

[3] Paraguay, A., 2015. REFORMA AGRAGRIA EN PARAGUAY. Revista de Política Internacional Setiembre, 1, 003.
[click to view]

[1] FIAN International and La Vía Campesina. 2014. Land Conflicts and the Criminalization of Peasant Movements in Paraguay: The Case of Marina Kue and the “Curuguaty Massacre.” (Land & Sovereignty in the Americas Series, No. 6) Oakland, CA: Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy and Transnational Institute
[click to view]

[2] Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay, 2012. Informe de derechos humanos sobre el caso Marina Kue. Asunción: Paraguay: Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay
[click to view]

Telesur, Paraguay Yearns for Justice Three Years on from Coup. June 22, 2015 marks the third year anniversary of the illegitimate removal of former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo from office.
[click to view]

[4] Marteen Dros, J., 2004. Manejo del boom de la soya: dos escenarios sobre la expansión de la producción de la spya en América del Sur
[click to view]

Links

"Que Paso en Curuguaty" (what happened in curuguaty). Website with constant updates related to the case
[click to view]

"Curuguaty: Profesores de la UC piden justicia y absolución de campesinos" article on the online newspaper Ultima hora, which publishes many updated news regarding the case
[click to view]

Media Links

Facebook page for control, diffusion and following-up of the development of the oral judgment against the peasants who survived in Curuguaty.
[click to view]

"Desmontando Curuguaty", documentary about the irregularities during the judicial process which affected the accused peasants after the massacre.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Commemoration in Marina Kue, 1 year after the massacre Source: quepasoencuruguaty.org
[click to view]

Protest asking for judicial nullity for the peasants under accusation Source: group "Curuguaty Absolución Ya"
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorClàudia Custòdio, Lund University. Contact: [email protected]
Last update16/02/2017
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