Hail of bullets ends land-reform hopes in Paraguay

continued from page 1

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

She was taken to a hospital emergency room after she was wounded, but doctors were too busy with other victims to remove the bullet from her thigh.

“When I couldn’t stand the pain any longer, I used a razor blade in jail to make a cut, and pulled out the .38-caliber bullet with my finger,” she said.

Lucia Aguero joined a hunger strike to protest being jailed without formal charges. She lasted 59 days and nearly died before a judge said she and three others could return home under police custody until a hearing Dec. 17.

The former president, Mr. Lugo, has called the shootout a setup. His land-redistribution efforts were threatening the economic interests of the country’s most powerful businessmen, and they needed a scandal big enough to bring him down, he said.

“This government of coup-plotters has no interest or political will to seriously investigate and clear up the case. And the prosecutor’s performance gives little credibility,” Mr. Lugo declared last month.

Promises of land reform got Mr. Lugo elected, but he made no headway as president, with no available state land to redistribute or money to pay for expropriations.

No major landowners wanted to sell, with soy prices reaching historic highs.

One leader of the new president’s Authentic Radical Liberal Party, Deputy Elvis Balbuena, told AP Mr. Lugo has only himself to blame.

“He was entirely responsible for the Curuguaty case,” the legislator said. “He has as his presidential legacy the deaths of 17 people. Lugo was commander of the security forces. He was a friend of the leaders of different groups of landless farmworkers, and he oversaw the office that administers the distribution or purchase of land.”

One-sided investigation

Prosecutor Jalil Rachid has had six months to investigate and is expected to deliver his evidence to a judge on Monday. Police have made no comment, deferring to the prosecutor.

Despite complaints that he has ignored human rights violations by police, Mr. Rachid told The Associated Press that he is building a case only against the farmworkers.

The suspects are “accused of murder, criminal conspiracy, invading private property and resisting authorities. We also have a list of 54 fugitives,” Mr. Rachid said in a brief AP interview. “I’m only bringing forward these accusations.”

Most of the suspects were among the wounded, while the fugitives’ names came from a list of people who hoped to claim a plot of land through the occupation.

The farmers say the prosecutor should be investigating police, too.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks