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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.
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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