Friday, July 15, 2011

Paraguay #11: Resistance is Fertile

Matilde on her land.
Matilde holds her belly and tells us that, Thanks be to God, she has been blessed with child and is six months pregnant.  She had been unsure if she could have children, especially after what she suffered during her imprisonment under the Stroessner dictatorship.  The first time Matilde was jailed though was with her whole family.  She was two years old.

Both of Matilde's parents were campesino leaders in the Ligas Agrarias Cristianas (Christian Agrarian League).  She shows us the many documents related to her imprisonments, held in a wooden cupboard in a very simple bedroom.  Matilde lives in Limoy, an Asentamiento of 200 families, all members of D&P partner MCP. We've come to visit and are offered hospitality in her home where we share lunch.  Thirty percent of these families have actual title to their land and the rest are in various stages of fighting to obtain it, including Matilde.

Matilde's Saved Seeds
"We took this land back from the Soya plantation 8 years ago," she tells us. Many Campesino's who occupy land 'owned' by large producers argue that it is the producers who are the true occupiers.  When they get title to a large piece of land they snatch up a little bit extra on the side.  Instead of "give an inch and take a mile", its "give a mile and take an inch".  The MCP says that in 2008 there were 8000 Hectares of land in this category.

Paraiso tree, used as natural pesticide
Matilde herself is in the process of proving in the courts that her land does not belong to the Brazillian producer they took it back from but to the Paraguayan government, who can then grant it to her family under land reform policies.

She tells us about the day they came to take the land back. Hundreds of people from the community came after the Soya harvest to stake out the land. The response was strong. At times there were over 600 police present.  Tents were burned. "We had a friend up the road who would call us to say when the Police were coming.  We would leave so it would be empty when they'd arrive and then come right back after they'd leave." She laughs.

We tour the farm she has created on this land. Matilde shows us the tree that acts as a natural pesticide, her kitchen garden, her saved seeds,  the chicken coop in the tree and her water system. "I am determined to work for my elders and for the child in my belly," she tells us.  Resistance is fertile indeed!

1 comment:

Rudy Stocking said...

To our Canadian D&P Solidarity group,
As I follow your journey, (so passionately and inspiringly told - thank you), I am moved to tears by the courage and the commitment of our Paraguayan partners. Truly, their strength comes from " holding God's Hand". Despite the enormous challenges to redress the incredible injustices, I have already picked a sense of unquenchable hope and faith that lies in their hearts.
God Bless,
Rudy Stocking, (Dad)