[QODLink]
Americas
Paraguay deploys army to quell land dispute
At least 17 killed in battles between police and farmers, prompting interior minister and chief of police to resign.
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2012 10:58
Armed clashes erupted when police tried to evict landless farmers from privately-owned farmland [AFP]

Paraguay has deployed its army to resolve a violent land dispute after 17 people were killed in gunbattles between police and landless farmers.

The victims were eight police officers and nine farmers in one of the worst such incidents in the country for two decades.

The clash prompted Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo to accept the resignations of Carlos Filizzola, his interior minister, and Paulino Rojas, his chief of police, in an emergency cabinet meeting.

The violence broke out on Friday as police tried to evict about 150 farmers from a remote northern forest reserve, which is part of a huge estate owned by a Colorado Party politician opposed to Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who spent years serving in the north of the country.

Lugo ruled out any links between the incident and the Paraguayan People's Army, a small leftist group that has staged a series of raids on rural police posts in recent years.

The farmers shot at the officers when they arrived to evict them from a privately owned farm in the Canindeuyu district,
about 240km from the capital, Asuncion, and they returned fire, officials said.

Agrarian reform

The army chief said 150 soldiers had been sent to the rural area near the Brazilian border, dominated by sprawling soy
fields, cattle ranches and illegal marijuana plantations.

The roughly 2,000-hectare farm where the violence took place is owned by a local businessman who complained that a group of about 100 families had invaded his property about three weeks ago.

Campaigners for land rights say the land was distributed during the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, when allies of his regime were rewarded with vast tracts of prime farmland in the landlocked nation of six million people.

Conflicts over land have increased in recent decades due partly to increased soybean farming in a country that was one of the world's largest exporters of oilseed. Ranching has also spread into areas that used to be relatively free from large-scale agriculture.

One of Lugo's election pledges was sweeping agrarian reform but his plans to redistribute land stalled as the state struggled to reach agreement between peasant farmers demanding specific tracts and landholders willing to sell them.

The opposition's hold on congress has also complicated his reform agenda.

376

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
join our mailing list