THE SOY REPUBLIC BURNS!Arthur Follebout
The following comment and "very free translation and reworking from a
message (in Spanish) sent today by the Grupo de Reflexion Rural in
Argentina" comes from Dr Ignacio Chapela. --- The Soy Republic burns
Mostly unseen to American and European eyes, a massive transformation of
the South American landscape is taking place. A new bread basket for
the world is being constructed in what used to be the wild and native
lands of the Amazon basin. Monoculture of soybeans, and specifically
herbicide resistant GMO varieties of this crop, are the foundation for
this massive geopolitical transformation.
The social costs of the establishment of the Soy Republic, comprising
the eastern watersheds of Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, are
staggering, yet invisible to Northern media.
Below are translated extracts from a recent missive from Grupo de
Reflexin Rural (GRR), one of the few organizations calling attention to
the events in these lands. Similar cases of murder, mass evictions,
land-grabbing and bloody confrontation have become regular news from
the advancing front of the Soy Republic.
Serapio Villasboa Cabrera was a member of the Paraguay Campesino
Movement (MCP), and the brother of a prominent member of CONAMURI, an
indigenous and campesino women's organization. He was brutally killed
this month near his home by a death squad from the Citizens' Brigades.
These brigades are reckoned to count more than 13,000 armed and trained
operators who perform evictions, detentions, torture and murder upon
those who do not accept a new, illegal order in the Paraguayan
countryside. Just in Mr Villasboa's region of San Pedro, the brigades
are responsible for the death of at least 10 campesinos.
Citizens' Brigades operate on behalf of large land owners and soya
industrialists, who refer to them as "Garrote Commision". They work
with the tacit approval of the interior ministry, and pretend to
eliminate all indigenous and campesino organizations which continue to
emerge as a response to growing unrest due to the rapid consolidation
of land holdings by monopolic soya producers. It is estimated that soy
plantations advance at a rate of a quarter million hectares per year
(600,000 acres/yr), associated with some 90,000 campesino transfers to
the urban poverty belt yearly.
Paraguay already devotes 64% of its arable land to soybean cultivation,
and is the world's fourth exporter of this commodity. The government,
under influence of international interests, is planning to expand this
cultivation even further. There is no doubt that the promotion of
soybean monoculture is at the root of the violence against and
impoverishment of the rural communities throughout South America.
Resistance against this monoculture has become a human rights struggle.
The Grupo de Reflexin Rural (GRR), in Argentina, is trying to bring to
the attention of the Northern world the growing human rights disaster
wrought upon rural populations throughout the region by soybean
cultivation. This crop is exported mostly to feed cheap meat for
European consumption, as well as for the production of industrial foods
for Northern populations.
GRR and MCP request the presence of international monitors to witness
and question the policies of the Duarte Frutos government in Paraguay.
MCP also requests international support for their urgent struggle to
save lives and livelihoods in the indigenous and rural areas of their country.