ASUNCION – Peasants gathered on Monday outside Paraguay’s agriculture ministry to demand that the government live up to legislation passed last August during a previous round of protests by farmers.
The Family Agriculture Emergency Law called for spending $40 million within 180 days, a period that expires on Friday.
The legislation promised farmers financing from state-owned lender Credito Agricola, food aid and provision of supplies and equipment.
To date, protest organizer Jorge Galeano told EFE peasants have received nothing from Credito Agricola, no food aid and a total of 15 tractors, while the original agreement called for 105 tractors to be distributed to rural families in 13 regions.
He said that the march in Asuncion was set to conclude with a visit to Congress, where peasant leaders would meet with the legislative standing committee and the ministers of agriculture, Marcos Medina, and finance, Lea Gimenez.
“We are making an administrative complaint, a political complaint before the parliamentary authority and, if there is no response, we will present a criminal complaint to the Attorney General’s Office,” Galeano said, demanding an investigation of where the $40 million went.
Thousands of peasants spent 37 days camped out in the capital last July and August to press for the emergency law and for their debts to be forgiven.
While Congress approved both aid to the farm sector and debt forgiveness, right-wing President Horacio Cartes vetoed the debt legislation.
Paraguay imports more than half of its food, in large measure because much of the arable land is planted with soybeans for export.
The country has 2.5 million peasants, comprising about 35 percent of the population, yet 90 percent of rural land is held by less than 5 percent of the landowners.