Charles Lane discusses the role of Paraguay's soy bean production in the American and international market.
Everyone I interviewed blames the Paraguayan government for the negative impacts of soy. The corruption, the lack of economic and social programs, and the selective enforcement of laws. My last interview was with Senator Alfredo Jaeggli, a former race car driver who decided 18 years ago to become a politician for the opposition.
The people pushed out by soy typically come to one of Asuncion's three shanty towns where they hope to (eventually) find work. One is behind Paraguay's legislative building and another is closer to the suburbs. The oldest one is Cateura, so named because it was built from the landfill of the same name that looms in the background.
Charles Lane meets Paraguay's priest-turned-politician, Fernando Lugo.
I asked Lena Rigley, the wife of a Brazilian soy grower, to read from the police report filed shortly after their soy plantation was invaded in 2001:
Pulitzer center grantee Charles Lane discusses the various chemicals used in soy bean production.
Many Paraguayans' lands have been turned into soy fields and have been forced to become part of the 180 squatters living in the outskirts of Santa Rita.
An interesting/depressing side note to the last post I forgot to mention. After Lugo left the local press swarmed me to ask why Americans are interested in Lugo. I said he was a compelling character and Americans are interested in a more lefty South America. I was then asked how Americans feel about supporting past regimes who persecuted South American liberals. I said most Americans don't know about it, but those who do are embarrassed. I hope I am correct.
Paraguay's presidential candidate, Fernando Lugo, builds up a crowd of supporters at a rally in Horqueta.
Last night I attended my first political rally put on by the Colorado party, the party that has ruled Paraguay since 1947 making it the oldest government in the world. Never before have I seen such blatant puppeteering.
Close to 1000 people squeezed into the tiny courtyard headquarters of the Colorado Sectional in Itapua's Cornell Bogado...
Today is a state holiday, the anniversary of Asuncion's founding in 1537. While the generals and politicians laid flowers at the shrine of Paraguay's heroes some 200 campesinos rallied down the street at Plaza Uruguay. They chanted "The people together, we will never be defeated."
Three months ago the Plaza Uruguay was the place to find cheap prostitutes in Asuncion. But since May they were all chased out by the likes of Beatriz Rivarola, a Guarani "Indian" who, along with 150 others from her reservation, have set up 73 tents and camp in the center of the city as a way to protest land distribution in Paraguay.