Tractorazo: Soy producers stage protest for “peace, security and jobs”
On the fifteenth of December, soy producers in Paraguay organised a ´tractorazo´, a tractor-display to show their fear for political change
and land reform. Long rows of farming machinery could be seen along some of the highways. The manifestation was not as massive as the organisers hoped for. On several places announced, the ‘tractorazo’ did not materialize – such as in Caaguazu in the center of Paraguay, and the amount of attendants was far lower than expected. A video can be watched below..
The goal of the tractorazo was said to be ”a secure Paraguay, where everybody lives together in respect of the law, no exceptions”, according to a communique of the organisers. The manifestation received strong support from most of the national press, banks, and the multinational ADM. Other companies like Cargill, Dreifus and Trociuk did not openly support the manifestations.
The mobilization is a reaction to the recent change of government, and the growing resistance against the soy model. A new Council for Agrarian Reform has been installed by the Lugo government, excluding the industrial soy sector, to their great dismay. Hundreds of land occupations by campesino movements have occurred all over the country, and in actions against fumigations have been held.
The organisations of landless, small farmers and trade unions therefore pointed out that the ‘tractorazo’ was mainly a plea against social change. “They have the machines, we have the people”, as one of their organisers said. “The peace and security they demand is a declaration of violence against the people that want a new Paraguay. They are looking for a scenario of confrontations if the Lugo government doesn’t give in to the interests of a corrupt minority”, the Frente Social y Popular pointed out in a declaration. In order to avoid possible escalation, no counter mobilisations were called for. The only exception was the district of San Pedro, where no big tractorazo´s were to be seen, but where thousands marched for social justice.
It is only four months since the new government has come to power and the time has come for real changes that the great majority of people in this land has been waiting for since a very long time. “Reforma agraria, urgente y necessaria“ is the claim heard all over the country. From September till December is the season for soy planting, and the organisations of small farmers and landless have shown their determination to enforce change by occupying land owned by big farmers.
This creates fear in upper sectors of society to lose some of their power. In that context, the ´tractorazo´ is a plea to stop land reform and other possible forms of change.