Latin America Bureau

Paraguay - the 'poverty factory'

Paraguay - the 'poverty factory'

Published on: Tue May 7, 2013
Author: Fernando Martínez Escobar
Source: E'a: Periódico de Interpretación y Analisis

Paraguay is, and will apparently continue to be, a rich land for the production of raw materials based on the exclusion of much of its population.  Paraguayans are landless lodgers in their own land with no right to a share in the country's production, a fighter searching for the promised land.  Quintín Riquelme reminds us, in his 2003 researches, of the first peasant risings in 1887 in the villages of Atyra and Concepción.  In Concepción 600 families rose in revolt against being expelled from their lands.

Two years before the then President Bernardino Caballero, by a decree-law, had sold Paraguay's lands complete with their population.  Thousands of rural families were left trapped and forced to wor the land for its new owners.  Then, as in Curuguaty, Paraguayans defended their right to live and work.

And so, almost 130 years after those events,  the promise from these presidential candidates not to tax soya is nothing new.  The economic framework is clear, as are its managers.  The excluded will continue to be collateral damage needed to shore up the model of accumulation.  120 murders of rural people betweenn 1989 and 2013 are no accident.

Similarly it is no accident that the first person to be convicted in the Curuguaty case is a 17-year old youth whose crime was to have taken food and water to his brother, in a judicial process that conjures up images of medieval inquisitions, in which the accused had to accuse himself in attempt to save his head from the axe.  Nestor Castro and Rubén Villalba14 political prisoners facing charges, two pregnant women in preventive detention, two political prisoners, Néstor Castro and Rubén Villalba, on hunger strike.  None of this is an accident.

The Paraguayan agroexport model, devoted mainly to exporting raw materials at the lowest possible cost, does not need its population.  It has nothing to sell to the people of Paraguay, nor any interest in selling them anything.  On the contrary, it needs concentrated agricultural production and a minimal but highly repressive state to control those left outske Gecko) Chrome/26.0.1410.64 Sa/p>

The candidates offer to end poverty, but oppose the creation of taxes that would stimulate the addition of value to exports and the growth of our rickety domestic market.  On the contrary, they profess their faith in spontaneous order of our friend Friedrich von Hayek and rush to rely on the battered world market, when Donald Richards in his 2011 study for CADEP showed that 'Simply relying on market forces will not be enough to stimulate sustainable economic growth with equity' in Paraguay.

The reds and the blues have another ally, the party of the late Lino Oviedo.  This political party promoted a flexible labour law that authorised the reduction of workers' salaries to less than the minimum, removed their right to secure employment  or social security.  In other words, it proposes the growth of a sector of the economy on the backs of the weakest sector of the urban population:  the manual worker, the sales assistant, the person at the till, the odd-job man, etc.  These people, the urban forced labourers, will have to contribute with their lives to the creation of wealth which they will never be able to share.

Paraguay, in both town and country, chooses to expel its population from an economic system reserved for a few.  In Paraguay there is no room for all Paraguayans under this highly exclusive model of accumulation run by the traditional parties.  This is the experience of millions of Paraguayan migrants who contribute with their effort and labour to the economies of many nations of the world.

Finally, all the signs are that Paraguay will continue to be a poverty factory, made of internal and external migrants, a weak state, submissive and unable even to regulate the battered buses that run on its city streets.

Paraguay's brave new direction is nothing more than this.

The original text can be read here.


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