NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • The Tyranny of Soy Agribusiness in Paraguay


    Ben Dangl: President Lugo hasn't delivered on promises to the farmers who brought him to power, while transgenic soy farms expand -   November 23, 10
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    No sports, no celebrities, no paid stories, no agendas. Pure integrity. - Steve Dustcircle
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America for the Guardian Unlimited, The Nation, and the NACLA Report on the Americas. He is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press) and Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press). He is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events and co-founder of UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America. Dangl teaches South American history and globalization at Burlington College. He can be reached by email: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com

    Precis

    Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and a series of Brazilians agribusinesses are flexing their muscles in Paraguay, currently occupying 25% of all arable land for the production of genetically modified soy for export. The losers are Paraguay's peasant farmers, and they've mobilized to defend themselves, including getting a president into power who promised to help them. But as Ben Dangl reports, for a serious of reasons, President Lugo has converted into an enemy of the same farmers that got him into power in the first place.

    Produced by Jesse Freeston.

    Transcript

    The Tyranny of Soy Agribusiness in ParaguayJESSE FREESTON, PRODUCER, TRNN: In part one of our interview with author and journalist Ben Dangl, we discussed the conflicts between left-wing governments in South America and the social movements that helped bring them to power in the first place. One of these governments is that of the Patriotic Alliance for Change in Paraguay, an alliance of eight political parties whose leader, Fernando Lugo, won the presidency in 2008.

    BENJAMIN DANGL, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: He's a former bishop. And he was elected on a platform to confront the country's soy-agro industry, military human rights violators from the dictatorship, and the right-wing infrastructure and institutions of the Colorado Party. The Colorado Party had been in power for 60 years. It was part of the Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship, which was one of many dictatorships around the region during the Cold War, and collaborated with each other to torture, kidnap, and murder political dissidents and maintain their power over the region. So when Lugo was elected, it was largely a victory against this nightmare of a dictatorship and the shadow the Colorado Party had over the country.

    FREESTON: In a country of farmers, the Colorado Party had maintained one of the most unequal land distributions in the world. The BBC reported that when Lugo came to power in 2008, 2 percent of landowners controlled 70 percent of the land.

    PRES. FERNANDO LUGO (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): In my first month as president, I will get comprehensive land reform.

    DANGL: Many people were hopeful that he would transform the country and confront these institutions, but he hasn't shown the political will to do this. In Paraguay, one of the most powerful aspects of the economy is the soy industry. Soy in Paraguay largely goes to feed farm animals in Europe. And this industry is rapidly expanding. It's largely powered by Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Monsanto, and various Brazilian companies. Small farming communities, small farmers are having to migrate to the cities in a massive exodus from the countryside. They're doing this because of the repression they face from thugs hired by the soy owners, the terrible pesticides that are used in soy production that poison water sources, that kill livestock, that kill anything else but soy, and that create cancer, blindness, birth deformities among campesino farmers that are living side by side next to these seas of soy.

    NICOLASA TRINIDAD, PEASANT FARMER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We've lost our health to the pesticides, and there are no hospitals, nothing.

    ILSA CASTRO, PEASANT FARMER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Women are the ones who suffer the most from extreme poverty. Women are without access to health care or education, and every day the poverty and discrimination is getting worse.

    FREESTON: As it stands, more than 25 percent of Paraguay's arable land is taken up by genetically modified soy farms. Peasant farmers, or campesinos, have organized to oppose this lucrative industry.

    DANGL: Dozens of campesinos has been murdered outright by paramilitaries hired by soy companies, in collusion with the police and the military of Paraguay. And campesinos have fought against this heroically, with direct action, blockading roads, occupying land, cutting down soy crops, defending their communities with machetes, and in solidarity with other communities. In spite of this, the expansion continues, the pollution continues. And Lugo has not only allowed for this expansion to continue, but he's repressed campesino sectors, like, for example, last spring calling a state of emergency in the Paraguayan countryside in the most socially powerful departments, where there's the most organizing happening. And in this state of emergency, which hasn't been called since the Stroessner dictatorship, this outlawed any kind of political meeting of any kind and prevented any of the kind of building blocks that make up the campesino movement from working.

    FREESTON: This kind of repression isn't new in Paraguay. It was here in 1992 where lawyer and former political prisoner Martín Almada uncovered the famous terror files of the Stroessner dictatorship. The files revealed the extent of Operation Condor, the CIA's program of installing, supporting, and organizing a whole series of South American military dictatorships. The files documented the level of coordination amongst the dictatorships themselves that were responsible for the overthrow of numerous elected presidents, and thousands of murders, tortures, and kidnappings. The US government position is that it was necessary in order to stop the spread of communism. Others point to the benefits that accrued to US corporations in the form of the land, low taxes, and low wages that were guaranteed by military rule. At the same time, the US military was training many of the offending military leaders and a total of 60,000 Latin American soldiers at the School of the Americas. That program remains operational today in Fort Benning, Georgia. But the US isn't the only foreign power that the region has to contend with.

    DANGL: The analysis of campesinos largely looks to Brazil as the imperialism in their neighborhoods and their communities, the Brazilian soy farmers coming into the country and working against the self-determination of Paraguayan farmers. So when speaking about imperialism, they're usually talking about Brazil, not just—you know, instead of Washington. And this is a reality in Uruguay, in Bolivia, in Argentina, where the most powerful government in the region, the most powerful companies in the regions often come from Brazil.

    FREESTON: Despite the relatively minor nature of his reform projects, President Lugo has been targeted for removal by the traditional elite and the Congress, which the opposition controls. He is currently facing demands for his resignation after he fired the commanders of the Army, Navy, and Air Force amidst fears of an impending military coup.

    DANGL: Since Lugo's time in office, there have been many different rumors of coup attempts against him. None of them have played out. Lugo is also, unfortunately, sick with cancer right now. So there have been these various serious challenges that have faced his administration, both from the right, his health situation, and from the protests from the campesino sector. And I think that all these factors will contribute to the fact that he probably won't be reelected and may not even finish his term.

    FREESTON: With so many farmers feeling abandoned, Dangl says that many have organized alternatives to the government.

    DANGL: Families who are displaced by the pesticides, by the paramilitary violence, by the poverty of trying to work a small farm, arrive in cities penniless without any kinds of allies, often, and end up recycling cardboard from the streets to survive, and enter an oftentimes inescapable cycle of poverty and police criminalization, which is hard to escape. The Bañados, a poor neighborhood between the capital city and the river in Asunción, Paraguay, this has been expanding rapidly as more and more families leave the countryside. And one hopeful example in Paraguay of resistance to this poverty and exclusion is a certain neighborhood of the Bañados that has organized against the criminalization of their community, has worked to create their own health clinic, has worked as a kind of popular mayor's office to meet the needs of the community through years of organizing, and has—in spite of the negligence and repression of the Lugo administration, has worked to support small farmers there in the settlement, in the community, has worked to build trees to prevent flooding, because it's right next to the river, and has essentially worked, in the absence of the state and in the absence of a benevolent president, have worked to create a better society within this nightmarish scenario in Paraguay, and they've been successful. And there are many other examples around Paraguay and Latin America of people, when faced with these kind of challenges, working autonomously among neighbors, building close relationships over generations, and because of that, successfully building a better tomorrow and more opportunities for their kids and various generations.

    End of Transcript

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement on Earth Day 2014
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting