Criminalization of peasants in Paraguay

Land Conflicts and Criminalization of Peasant Movements in Paraguay: The Case of Marina Kue and the 'Curuguaty Massacre'

The 'Curuguaty Massacre' took place during the eviction made against landless peasant families who had occupied an area known as Marina Kue in the district of Curuguaty.

After the massacre, 63 peasants were charged; twelve of these people were charged on various accussations, including with invasion of property. The latter charge was filed even though the ownership of the land remains to be established by the Supreme Court. This refers to lands destined for the agrarian reform which were illegally seized by landowners.

Against this background is the demand for access to land and adequate food. In Paraguay, 2.5% of farms occupy 85% of the arable land; the concentration of land is one of the highest in the world. From the 'Curuguaty Massacre', civil society has reported an increase in evictions of peasant and indigenous communities, as well as repression, violence and criminalization against those who claim the land and seek to defend human rights. This happens in a context of judicial impunity: the state does not investigate crimes against peasants, indigenous communities and defenders of human rights, while social struggle is criminalized.

The 'Curuguaty Massacre' has become an emblematic case of violation of human rights and criminalization of social struggles in Paraguay and Latin America, as noted by the Rapporteur for Paraguay in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Paulo Vanucchi, during a public     hearing held on October 31, 2014 in Washington DC. Due to its severity, the case has received great attention to regional and international levels (see below).