ASUNCION – Paraguay’s National Peasant Federation (FNC) announced on Friday the adoption of a more aggressive approach toward securing agrarian reform in the South American country with the most extreme concentration of land ownership.
The program emerged from the FNC’s two-day national congress in Asuncion.
“Organization and struggle, there is no other way. We have the experience of the conquest of 300,000 hectares (740,740 acres) of land thanks to organization, struggle, and land occupations,” FNC deputy secretary-general Marcial Gomez told EFE.
The FNC, which represents some 20,000 families in 10 provinces, remains committed to defending existing settlements against the abuses of “land barons, giant agro-exporters, soy producers and the state itself,” he said.
At the same time, the federation plans to emphasize more offensive measures “regarding the need to continue conquering pieces of land,” Gomez said.
He pointed to the existence of 1 million hectares of land that ought to be subject to expropriation under agrarian reform, but are not because of the privileged status of the owners.
Another 8 million hectares were “illegally” bestowed on politicians and military officers during the 1954-1989 dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, Gomez said.
“Distribute those lands. Generate new settlements and strengthen them with a policy of development of production, fundamentally of the products of domestic food supply and raw materials that we need to industrialize our country. That is the way we must advance agrarian reform policy,” the FNC official said.
Gomez said that Paraguay’s reliance on imports for more than 50 percent of its food represents a loss of sovereignty.
Much of the poor, landlocked nation’s arable land has been planted with soy intended for export.
Paraguay’s 2.5 million peasants make up 35 percent of the population, the highest proportion in South America, while 90 percent of rural land is held by less than 5 percent of proprietors.