Testimonies on repression and violence around Tacuatí, San Pedro

Following the burning down of a police post in Tacuatí, San Pedro, Paraguay, on 31st December, a large military and police force was sent to the region. This has led to great fear among the population, a number of small farmers killed, shot at, or abused in several forms. Below you find two video´s containing testimonies of victims of crimes committed by the army and police forces now stationed in San Pedro.

Part 1: Testimony of two private guards of the estate of a Brazilian soy farmer, who were ´accidentally´ shot at by national police forces, at night, on January 7th. (language: Guarani)*

Transcription into Spanish:

Part 2: Testimony of Angela Velazquez, citizen from the village Kurusu de Hierro, where most repression was felt in the form of house by house searching of the 2 weapons that were stolen during the December 31 attack. She was sexually harassed, and relates how food and other items were stolen from the villagers. (language: Guarani)
Testimony of two Chilean and Swedish journalists who were held and investigated in the area of Tacuatí. (language: Spanish)*

Transcription into Spanish of the part in Guarani:

IPS article by Natalia Ruiz Diaz:
Source: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45416

Dutch, smaller version:

PARAGUAY: New Insurgent Group or Framing of Rural Activists?
By Natalia Ruiz Díaz

Jan 14 (IPS) - Whether or not the so-called Paraguayan People’s Army
(EPP) -- which claimed responsibility for the recent theft of arms from
a remote military post -- actually exists is a subject of debate among
activists, academics and political leaders in Paraguay.

Since the late December incursion in the military post in the northern
department (province) of San Pedro, the Paraguayan government has
deployed hundreds of members of the security forces in the area, to
search for the perpetrators.

But the public appearance of the EPP has awakened suspicions
among activists and politicians, who believe it is a fabrication aimed
at casting rural activists in a criminal light.

A group of men stole the weapons from the army post in
Tacuati, San Pedro at midnight on Dec. 31 and set the building on fire

The police say they have launched a thorough probe, and the
government of Fernando Lugo ordered a military and police operation in
the northern departments of San Pedro, Concepción and Amambay.

The deployment of troops -- 400 soldiers and 200 police -- is
aimed at assessing the situation in the three departments with a view
to establishing a new security structure in the area.

"The objective is to reestablish order and security with the
purpose of providing guarantees for peaceful coexistence, in the wake
of recent events," Elvio Segovia, the Interior Ministry deputy minister
of political affairs, told IPS.

Segovia downplayed reports of the existence of the EPP.

In the past few years, clashes between landless peasant farmers
and large landowners have intensified in San Pedro as well as
Concepción, and Amambay, on the border with Brazil, is considered a
drug trafficking transit zone.

"There are criminal organisations in the area, like gangs of
traffickers who try to intimidate and terrorise the population. For
that reason, the aim of the operation is to identify the ties between
those groups and political protection rackets," said Segovia.

"The rural movement has neither the capacity nor the funds" to
confront the criminal networks, which operate at an international

A pamphlet found near the Tacuati military post claimed
responsibility for the attack, leftist activist Carmen Villalba
confirmed to the press.

From the Buen Pastor women’s prison in Asunción, Villalba
warned that the Tacuati case was only the start of "armed struggle" in

In 2005, Villalba was sentenced to 18 years in prison for her
participation in the kidnapping of María Edith Bordón de Debernardi,
the daughter-in-law of Enzo Debernardi, who served as finance minister
under dictator Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989).

Political analyst Alfredo Boccia, who has carried out research
on the recent history of Paraguay, especially the transition to
democracy, told IPS that he had the impression that an armed group is

He said the group was seeking publicity by attacking a remote military post.

Boccia said he believed peasant movement organisations were not
involved, but that the rural population in general was, because the
members of the group moved around the area with ease.

"It’s a poor, neglected area where a lot of people believe
that (armed struggle) is the solution, due to the absence of the
state," he said.

For her part, Rocío Casco, leader of the Movement to Socialism
Party (P-MAS), told IPS that "I doubt that the EPP exists. Maybe it’s
something that was invented to make the rural movement look like

"The government was forced to deploy troops to defend the
process that began on Apr. 20," when the centre-left Lugo was elected
president, said the activist.

According to Casco, powerful groups that do not want to lose
their privileges were behind the attack on the military post, and are
using all possible means to block the current process of political and
social change.

Six peasant farmers were arrested after the start of the
military and police operation on Saturday, on suspicions of belonging
to the EPP. But they have been released since.

The Human Rights Coordinator of Paraguay (CODEHUPY) reported
that the farmers said they were tortured by the police and military
deployed to Tacuati.

The human rights coalition also reported the murder Monday by
paid gunmen of Martín Ocampos, leader of the Peasant Organisation of
the North, in Hugua Ñandu, a district in the department of Concepción,
where 12 rural activists were killed between 1989 and 2005.

"The victims’ reports (of torture) show that members of the
police and military who lack training to carry out a proper
investigation use torture to incriminate just anyone," said CODEHUPY
lawyer Juan Martens.

Martens pointed out that United Nations Special Rapporteur on
Torture Manfred Nowak documented in November 2005 the systematic use of
torture by police in Paraguay.

The deployment of troops has no specific end date, and the
participation of the military is limited to logistical support for the
national police, said Interior Minister Rafael Filizzola. (END/2009)

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