The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court annulled the sentence of eleven peasants condemned for participation in the the massacre of Curuguaty in June 2012. The court’s decision is due to multiple irregularities in the legal proceedings which were denounced by citizens and social movements across the world, as well the lack of evidence to prove the criminal participation of the peasants.
This decision is an extremely important victory for peasant and people’s movements in Paraguay and Latin America who have been fighting relentlessly for the past 6 years for the liberation of the peasants.
The judge Emiliano Rolón, who was a member of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, announced the decision to revoke the sentence. He explained that the lack of rationale and justification for criminal responsibility were the grounds for nullifying the sentence of the 11 peasants.
“There is no new trial; the court’s decision is simply revoked. They must be released now,” Judge Rolón said, declaring the unanimous decision of the three-member tribunal. “It couldn’t be proved who shot. There was a lack of evidence,” he added. The three judges of the tribunal said that there were “flaws” in the process and agreed that it was not possible to prove that the accused had participated in the crime.
The massacre happened on June 15, 2012, when the State’s repressive forces attacked a land occupation of peasants in Marina Kue in Cucuguaty. The repressive forces surrounded the area and then shot without any dialogue at the peasants who were occupying and claiming the land. The land of Marina Kue were lands destined for the agricultural reforms, and the peasants there had been presenting papers to show their claim to the land. Meanwhile, the businessman, Stronista Blas Riquelme, attempted to dispute their claim and take over the land, as he was already doing with several other lands that were expropriated during and after the military coup d’etat of Alfredo Stroessner who was dictator from in 1954 to 1989.
On that day in Curuguaty, the repressive forces killed 17 people – 11 peasants and six policemen. The incident and the subsequent political crisis was used as an excuse by the Paraguayan legislature to call for an impeachment vote of the then President of the Republic, Fernando Lugo. By June 22, 2012 Lugo was impeached and removed from office.
Now after 6 years the unjust case has fallen, demonstrating that the massacre of the peasants taking part in the heroic resistance of Marina Kue was nothing more than an excuse for the coup d’etat and, with it, an attempt to curb the struggle of the Paraguayan people for land, independence and sovereignty.
As the peasants and their comrades have shown, the struggle is a long road, and sooner or later, the people will have justice.
The peasant and people’s movements of Paraguay say: Freedom for all the political prisoners, recovery of the lands of Marina Kue for the peasantry, democratic restitution and punishment to the corrupt ones responsible for the encroachment of land, the judicial farce and the coup d’etat.