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A YEAR OF LUGO: LUGO MUST CHOOSE HIS BATTLES

VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 4

According to the Paraguayan Truth and Justice Commission that examined close to 200,000 land grants, which amounted to 12 million hectares, nearly 8 million hectares had been awarded between 1954 and 2003 with grave "irregularities" due to ex-parte agrarian legislation. According to Joaquin Rivery Tur of Granma International, during Lugo's first one hundred days in office, Paraguay witnessed 80 land occupations and respective land evictions, with one causing the death of Bienvenido Melgarejo, a member of the Farmers Asso- ciation in Alto Paran (ASAGRAPA).\ncom.

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									  council on hemispheric affairs | www.coha.org | vol. 29, no. 8 | May 8, 2009




           Washington Report on the Hemisphere
                            The Biweekly Source for Western Hemispheric News, Analysis, and Opinion


               A Hero of the dominican republic:                                                                   IN THIS ISSUE
                    Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez                                                        The Legacy of Peña Gómez                  1
  The woeful mutual history of the Dominican         and failures, Peña Gómez was nominated
Republic and Haiti (which share the island of        three-times as a candidate to be the Domini-        A Year of Lugo                            1
Hispaniola) is tainted with bloodshed as a result    can president and mayor of the capital, Santo
of tectonic political and racial tensions over the   Domingo. Peña Gómez’s battle against racial         Polo Democrático                          3
decades. However, intertwining the two, was          constraints and anti-Haitian bigotry was per-
Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, a Dominican           petually used to deter him from his lifetime        Country Briefs                            8
national of dark skin and Haitian ancestry, who      mission of winning the presidency and creat-
would eventually become revered as one of the        ing a Dominican Republic which for the first       bloodthirsty Dominican dictator, commis-
most prominent and best loved Dominican              time would be at the service of its citizenry.     sioned the 1937 Parsley Massacre, known as “El
political figures of the twentieth century.          Although repeatedly denied the presidency of       Corte,” in the Dominican Republic, in which he
  Born on March 6, 1937, his life became cen-        his country, without question, he became one       ordered the executions of an estimated 17,000-
tered on politics long before he worked his          of the most outstanding black political figures    30,000 Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans
way up to become the leader of the Dominican         in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, and     living along the Dominican-Haitian border over
Revolutionary Party (PRD). During a political        a true hemispheric hero.                           a five-day period. Guns, machetes, clubs and
career filled with heartbreaks, disappointments         Rafael Trujillo, a virulent anti-Haitian and    Peña Gómez continues on page 2

                             A Year of Lugo: Lugo must choose his battles
   Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop,          ests in Paraguay, Brazil has turned to its armed   make significant progress in the redistribution
became a beacon of hope for impoverished             forces to shine their bayonets. In October of      of land to peasant farmers and has shown little
Paraguayans when he was elected in 2008,             2008, it deployed troops to the “friendship        prospect of ending the ANR’s tight grip on the
ending over a half century of Colorado Party         bridge” that connects the two nations, claim-      country and the flagrant corruption it has insti-
(ANR) control. His victory came as a result of       ing it was part of a drug interdiction campaign.   tutionalized in Paraguay.
a coalition forged under the Patriotic Alliance      As a result of these opposing forces, Lugo’s
                                                                                                        Agrarian Reform
for Change (APC), which included a number
                                                                                                             One percent of the population owns 77 per-
of interest groups intent on toppling the pow-
                                                                                                          cent of the land in Paraguay, leaving hundreds
erful ANR. The ten-party alliance included
                                                                                                          of thousands of campesino families without a
groups wearied by the ANR’s rampant corrup-
                                                                                                          sliver of land. A huge war debt after the War
tion, as well as Liberals attempting to increase
                                                                                                          of Triple Alliance, which ended in 1870,
the land-locked country’s attractiveness to for-
                                                                                                          forced Paraguay to sell off large sections of
eign investors.
                                                                                                          land to foreign entities. Further exacerbat-
  Lugo’s campaign platform centered on end-
                                                                                                          ing the land disparity in Paraguay, corrupt
ing corruption and pursuing an agrarian land
                                                                                                          leaders routinely granted friends and rela-
reform program. April 20 marked Lugo’s first
                                                                                                          tives stretches of land, which they then often
year in office, albeit a year without much prog-
                                                                                                          sold to Brazilian nationals. Much of the land
ress. His vision of a new Paraguay has yet to
                                                                                                          being claimed by the squatting campesinos
be fully realized as he has had to contend with
                                                                                                          has been acquired extra - legally, with much
powerful naysayer forces. On the one hand, the
                                                                                                          of it handed out during the dictatorship of
formidable ANR retains control of the country’s      campaign pledges have been largely fruitless.
                                                                                                        Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989). According to
legislature and judiciary. On the other hand,        Expecting rapid changes, landless farmers are
                                                                                                        the Paraguayan Truth and Justice Commission
in order to achieve land reform, Lugo must go        becoming increasingly disillusioned by his lack
                                                   
								
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