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News > Latin America

Paraguayan Campesinos Demand Senate Address Agriculture Crisis

  • Campesinos marched in the captial of Paraguay to demand greater government support, July 25, 2017.

    Campesinos marched in the captial of Paraguay to demand greater government support, July 25, 2017. | Photo: EFE

Published 25 July 2017

Campesinos want the Senate to discuss a "social emergency bill" designed to stimulate the agricultural sector and help small-scale farmers hit by the crisis.

Campesinos in Paraguay marched through the capital Asuncion to demand that their proposal for emergency support be discussed by the Senate.

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The proposal asks for financial assistance and for a national emergency to be called to reactivate the agricultural sector which has been devastated by climate change and lack of government support

Leaders of the Intersectoral National Committee, CNI, blame the government of President Horacio Cartes for failing small-scale farmers and leaving them with impossible debts.

The CNI includes the Coordination of Campesinas Organizations, the National Organization of Sugar Cane Producers, the Indigenous campesinos of Ñane Mba'e and the Agrarian and Popular Movement.

According to the organization, thousands of campesino families have been hurt by the crisis.

"The campesino march advances. They are waiting for the Emergency Law for Family Agriculture to be addressed."

"National police block the advance of the campesino march."

Much of the country has been hit by floods and are “affected by natural phenomena which have led to a total loss in their production” leaving many regions “without roads, without houses,” CNI reported.

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Since July 10, campesinos have been fighting to receive more support from the government. They want the government to forgive the debts of small-scale farmers, subsidize production, legalize and regularize the distribution of land and provide credits to stimulate the agricultural industry.

The Paraguayan government has said it does not have the budget to forgive the debt which is estimated to be US$34 million.

Paraguay has one of the biggest campesino populations in South America. Around 35 percent of the country works on the land, meaning 2.5 million of the country’s 7 million population are campesinos.

Land ownership has long formed the basis for bloody disputes in Paraguay, where the state often acts in the interests of the elite; 2.6 percent of landowners hold 85.5 percent of Paraguay’s lands while 91.4 percent of campesinos — with properties smaller than 20 hectares — hold only 6 percent of the agricultural land, according to the 2008 agriculture census.

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