Thousands of Paraguayan farmers have mobilised from all corners of the country, heading towards Asunción in droves, to protest President Horacio Cartes’ agricultural policies.
The Paraguay Pyahurã political party and the National Farmers’ Federation (FNC) have called for the demonstration, that will convene before the Paraguayan Congress and demand the resignation of President Cartes. This rally represents the culmination of a week-long protest against what the FNC refers to as an “unsustainable development model”, heavy on exports, which generates widespread “disease, death, and poverty” for the working class.
Instead, they propose the creation of a “patriotic junta” to rule the country and protect farmers’ rights.
The prevalent system of farming in Paraguay continues to be the latifundio, or division of land into large estates that are in the hands of the few. Local farmers have long called for land reform in Paraguay.
In an interview with a local radio station, Marcial Gomez, a peasant leader, expressed that “with Horacio Cartes’ policymaking, the people receive little more than crumbs and repression. We demand the resignation of both Cartes and his immediate line of succession at the governmental level. We also demand a comprehensive political transformation that encompasses health, housing and employment, amongst others.”
Local labour unions have promised to join the farmers in their protest.
The government has not issued an official comment on the issue. Thus far, some 300 police officers have been deployed to escort the protesters and redirect traffic. Several of Asunción’s main arteries have been clogged as a result of the demonstration. Traffic has been described as “chaotic” by the local press.
The protesters have erected a makeshift stage at the square in front of the Paraguayan Congress. Peasant leaders will take the stage to voice their complaints. Their interventions will be followed by musical acts to close the week’s events.