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The deep dissatisfaction with the current Paraguayan administration is one of the main reasons that a wide range of urban and rural social organizations and movements from the entire country are calling for a general strike on Wednesday, March 26.
“Different sectors, different left-wing parties and even catholic groups are joining this initiative”, said Marielle Palau, member of BASE IS, an organization focused on social research that works closely with other social movements.
In an interview with Real World Radio, Marielle said that the current task of president Horacio Cartes is to further intensify neoliberalism in the country. “The country is basically up for sale, agribusiness and investments related to IIRSA are increasing. This means, the Paraguayan natural wealth is being put in the hands of international capital”, said the member of BASE IS.
In addition to their specific claims, the different movements share, according to Marielle, the demand to repeal the Public-Private Partnership Law. “This law was passed in October last year. It is a completely neoliberal law that enables the selling of national wealth with different aggravating factors: according to the Constitution, privatizations have to be approved by Congress, but this law authorizes the President to approve them almost unilaterally”, said Marielle.
Another major concern about this law is that it establishes that conflicts between a private company and the State should be solved in international courts, such as the World Bank´s ICSID. According to the Paraguayan activist “there is enough evidence in Latin America: these types of international bodies always favor large companies, not the interests of the people”.
In terms of the specific actions and mobilizations, Marielle said that the strike is focused in three directions: “On the one side, trade unions have announced they will block roads, mainly the entrance to Asuncion (capital of Paraguay). Other organizations linked to the Democratic Coordination are also planning to block roads in different places in the country and to organize mobilizations in Asuncion. And the National Peasant Federation, together with other social and political organizations is starting mobilizations today, also with blockades and assemblies in the entire country”.
Other claims by the movements are the release of the prisoners and the recovery of the Marina Cué lands. The five peasants who are still imprisoned after a process “filled with due process violations” have been on a hunger strike for 39 days, demanding their release and lands for the Paraguayan peasanthood.
Last week, some images emerged that proved peasants were executed at the massacre. The pictures of the peasants with their hands tied behind their backs (who were later murdered) caused outrage among the population in general, according to the activist, and even if we don´t know if this evidence can influence the trial, Marielle believes “this is evidence for the people, for them to see the injustice that is taking place”.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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