One of Paraguay's largest worker confederations, the National Intersectoral Coordinator, or CNI, has announced plans for nationwide protests in light of substandard government assistance to campesinos struggling with damaged crops.
CNI leaders have also declared a state of emergency and will be reinitiating mobilizations that filled the streets of Asuncion earlier this year, after leaders failed to reach an agreement with government officials over certain points in the proposed Law of Campesino Emergencies, which was discussed earlier this month.
Protest dates have yet to be confirmed.
Campesinos believe the government has no real intention to provide aid to starving families, leaving them with no choice but to request assistance from the international community and organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Red Cross and Mercosur.
Farmers say recent storms have severely damaged their crops and the current situation is unsustainable. Even more distressing for them is what they say is the government’s subpar response to its citizen’s cries for assistance.
Despite its promise to provide security to Paraguay’s farming families in the form of food kits and financial rehabilitation in accordance with agreements made earlier this month, thousands are still waiting for emergency aid.
According to CNI leader Felix Nunez, government officials remain open to dialogue with union members, but “the proposal is clear and the three points have to be met.”
Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Baruja said Wednesday that a portfolio work team collected the list of farmers with the ministerial database and established the total number of potential beneficiaries at 52,052 people.
Further data showed that of these, only 18,153 farmers are registered in the National Registry of Beneficiaries, Renabe, and have so far received emergency kits from the government aid office, while 33,889 of the qualified beneficiaries are still waiting for assistance.
According to Renabe, an additional 12,000 people have been registered and will be receiving aid soon, reaching a total of around 31,000 food kits cued for delivery. Baruja says the mobilizations will not affect government aid to needy families.
“We cannot allow by pressure or threat of mobilizations to leave the agreement that we have reached, we will always preserve the resources of the Paraguayan state," he said during a news conference.
The CNI and the ministry agreed earlier this month to effectively enforce the national emergency law for farming families across the country, after weeks of negotiations following peasant marches and demonstrations in the capital.