Paraguay: 15 Deaths, 9 Murder Charges After Land Dispute Turns Violent
June 18, 2012 By Staff
Top Story — Rubén Candia Amarilla was sworn in Saturday as Paraguay’s new interior minister after Carlos Filizzola and Police Chief Paulino Rojas resigned due to violent clashes that left at least 15 people dead in Paraguay’s northeastern Canindeyu province. Six police officers and at least nine landless farmers died Friday, and many more were injured after Paraguayan police raided a 4,900-acre reserve in Canindeyu where the farmers were living. The land is owned by the estate of politician Blas Riquelme, but has been occupied for several weeks by 150 landless peasants to grow soybeans. The farmers said the land had been illegally seized during the 1954-1989 military rule of Gen Alfredo Stroessner and argued that it should be redistributed after Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo promised land reforms to the country’s approximately 87,000 landless peasants in 2008. Police arrested nine farmers, including a 15 year-old boy, on murder charges following an eight-hour firefight between the peasants and the security forces. Interior Minister Candia Amarilla promised to continue the evictions.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized the political timing of U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement Friday that the Department of Homeland Security would begin to issue work permits to immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children.
- Mexico will host the Group of 20 leaders at a summit starting on Monday in Mexico’s Pacific resort of Los Cabos.
- Mexico City mayoral candidate Miguel Angel Mancera said that Mexico City has made “progress in security” even as other regions of the country confront escalating violence.
- Puerto Rican independence activist Norberto González Claudio accepted a plea deal Friday for his participation in a $7 million Connecticut bank heist in 1983 and will serve five years in prison.
- iHaitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said that Haiti has made progress in the two and a half years since its 2010 earthquake by moving 250,000 people out of tent camps.
- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse met with Raúl Castro during a state visit to Cuba on Saturday.
- Thousands of Costa Ricans participated in the “March of the Invisibles” on Saturday to call attention to LGBT and indigenous rights and criticize the appointment of evangelical legislator Justo Orozco, chosen to head the country’s Human Rights Commission.
- Colombian peasant activist Jairo Martinez was gunned down Friday as he and his group were attempting to recover their land in the Montes de Maria region.
- Rescuers are trying to recover the body of Spanish climber Jairo Domingo Peña, who died after falling into a crevasse at Ecuador’s Chimborazo volcano.
- Peruvian President Ollanta Humala’s approval rating dropped to 45 percent, its lowest point so far in his presidency, over conflicts over mining projects.
- Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will attend the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, known as “Rio+20″and plans official visits to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.
- Brazil expects to wrap up a draft document from the Rio+20 summit by Tuesday, but environmental groups worry that it will be completely ineffective.
- Argentine police conducted raids on brothels in Córdoba, rescuing 45 women and arresting 43 people for human trafficking.
- Chile’s Supreme Court ruled that Empresa Nacional de Electricidad SA (Endesa) must conduct an environmental impact survey before resuming work on its Bocamina II thermal plant.
Image: Fernando Lugo Méndez @ Flickr.