The Resource War Behind Paraguay’s Crisis Behind
by BENJAMI DANGL
Each bullet hole on the downtown Asunción, Paraguay light posts tells a story. Some of them are from civil wars decades ago, some from successful and unsuccessful coups, others from police crackdowns. The size of the hole, the angle of the ricochet, all tell of an escape, a death, another dictator in the palace by the river.
On June 22 of this year, a new tyrant entered the government palace. The right-wing Federico Franco became president in what has been deemed a parliamentary coup against democratically-elected, left-leaning President Fernando Lugo.
What lies behind today’s headlines, political fights and struggles for justice in Paraguay is a conflict over access to land; land is power and money for the elites, survival and dignity for the poor, and has been at the center of major political and social battles in Paraguay for decades. In order to understand the crisis in post-coup Paraguay, it’s necessary to grasp the political weight of the nation’s soil. Here, a look at the history of Paraguay’s resource war for land, the events leading up to the coup, and the story of one farming community’s resistance places land at the heart of nation’s current crisis.