Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Paraguay #15: The Road to Hell is Paved with Bad Intentions

Another Post from Elizabeth...

A road in Banado Norte

We have moved from the red roads of the countryside to the roads of Asuncion. Looking at the first picture you would be surprised to know that it was taken here in the city. Well, sort of... apparently the road Avda. Gral. Jose G. Artigas is the great divide. When you cross over this street as we did with a member of our partner SERPAJ-PY and entered the area of Banado Norte we seemed to step off the city into the neighbourhood of the poorest of the poor. Roads, like all other services are non-existent.
The Great Divide
You have read in this blog that large numbers of peasant farmers have been forced off their traditional farmland and moved to the city in search of work.  Banado Norte is a community where 80% of the residents are from displaced campesino families trying to find a way to survive. Three thousand five hundred families call this area home, some for more than 50 years. The past two days we have met with people from this area as they plan for an upcoming event that will spotlight the problems here. Tonight we stepped out of our taxis to learn more.
Out with Ada and Alba from SERPAJ
Look closely at the final picture.  You will see in the foreground a small lagoon. The lagoon is part of a special bird sanctuary for migrating birds. In the background you will see red soil of turned up earth for a new highway. The highway is going ahead which conflicts with plans for an expanded sanctuary and all this on the land that has been home to the people of Banado Norte. No Environmental Assesment plan here, no fair compensation plan for the people who will be displaced and it would seem there is a divide and conquer strategy on the part of the government and parties involved so that the people of the area have a hard time organizing to protect their rights.  Paraguay wants a sanctuary for its migrating birds.  Where is the sanctuary for the migrating poor? 

Highway on the Horizon...

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