Paraguayan peasant farmers demand government attention to their needs

Asuncion, Mar 6 (EFE).- Dozens of Paraguayan peasant farmers on Monday staged a demonstration in downtown Asuncion to denounce the government for failing to comply with an accord it signed last September which sets forth that it will provide them with seed and fuel as well as help them manage their debts to financial entities.

“Our main demands are the issues of healthcare, education and support for peasant family agriculture,” the president of the National Cane Farmers Organization (ONCA), Felix Nuñez, told EFE.

In addition, the demonstrators – who set up improvised tents using plastic sheets and lighted bonfires around the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry – are demanding that the government authorize the state-run National Development Bank to acquire the agricultural debts of certain peasants who, Nuñez said, “are about to lose their homes.”

Nuñez said that last September the farmers agreed with the administration regarding support for the agricultural sector and “to date, six months later, nothing has happened.”

The government announced last September that it had reached an agreement with peasant leaders that included, among other things, the delivery of fuel for their tractors along with corn seed and agricultural lime with which to prepare the soil before planting.

The National Intersectional Coordinator (CNI), to which ONCA belongs, confirmed that the farmers will not leave the capital until their demands are resolved, according to statements collected by the daily Ultima Hora.

The National Peasant Federation (FNC) has called a march for March 30 to demand an “end to persecutions, accusations and evictions of peasant communities.”

EFE –/bp

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