Paraguay

After the military coup that ended the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner in February 1989, Paraguay went through a period of social and institutional demilitarisation. This process began early in the last decade of the last century and accelerated towards the end of that decade and the start of the next, its pace set by the national political context.

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Rafael Uzcategui is a Venezuelan conscientious objector, author, and human rights activist who has been active with War Resisters' International, and in antimilitarism more generally, for many years. Here, he summarises the main tendencies of the Latin American conscientious objection movement, and details how his own nonviolent anarchist position fits into this picture.

During the eighties, many Latin American countries were living under military dictatorships or suffering the consequences of civil war. These were also the days of the Cold War, during which the US considered Latin America one of its 'zones of influence': almost like a back garden. The traumatic and progressive democratisation process meant that broad swathes of the continent's youth developed an antimilitarist sentiment, which began to take on an organised and political dimension. As an adolescent at the beginning of the nineties in Barquisimeto, a town 5 hours away from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, my peers and I had to hide ourselves twice a year for fifteen days, to avoid compulsory military service. Otherwise they would seize us on the streets and, without wasting words, force us into a truck, with others just as terrified, and from there take us to the barracks. For many of us, these forced recruitment raids or 'press gangs' were the starting point for our rejection of authority and of the military uniform.

Last November in Paraguay, WRI's affiliate - Serpaj Paraguay - worked with with human rights organsation Codehupy to host an international mission, formed by 43 members from eight countries. The mission was organised to verify the sharp deterioration of human rights conditions in Paraguay, particularly since last August, when President Horacio Cartes took office. Last August, the Paraguayan congress passed a series of laws giving war-like powers to the executive.

Pelao Carvallo

Monsanto brought GM into Paraguay in the same way that it has usually done elsewhere: by smuggling. And smuggling imposed GM soya, Monsanto soon achieved its legalisation by means of a powerful lobbying apparatus. And along with this soya came aerial and ground fumigation of glyphosate, and with that poisonous pesticide came diseases, contamination, malformation and deaths. The parliamentary coup d’etat occurred not long after (15-22 June 2012), effected to a large degree by Monsanto's agents at the Paraguayan parliament.

Paraguay's de-facto government of Federico Franco, which came into power after a "parliamentary coup" which ousted the country's elected President Fernando Lugo in June 2012, is increasing the pressure on conscientious objectors in the country. The department on conscientious objection reported that more than 500 young people apply for conscientious objection daily, to avoid a fine which is prescribed in the law on military service.

Editorial

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Since the coup d'etat in Paraguay, WRI has been following the situation in Paraguay closely. At the WRI Council meeting we had a session on Paraguay, where Council member, Pelao Carvallo, who lives in Paraguay, gave a presentation about how the coup was orchestrated and the resistance to it. As we send this statement, an antimilitarist week is taking place in Paraguay, with MOC Paraguay (a WRI affiliate) being one of the main organisers. WRI will continue to work in support of the Paraguayan antimilitarist and nonviolent movement.

Javier Gárate

Statement of War Resisters' International

War Resisters’ International, a network of 83 organisations from 42 countries, maintain our founding declaration of 1921 that “War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.” At our 2012 Council meeting in the city of Bilbao, Basque Country, we make the following statement:

Out of the Closet

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“In the time of a parliamentary coup d'etat, the machos bloom, everything becomes heroic and manly. Among the abusers and the abused, nobody wants to be history's pansy. We are all men according to that which is imposed as the official dispute. Many flags, many anthems, much shouting, many orders, everything very militant. Luckily the resistance is odd and so there is resistance to such orthodox masculinity and militarism, from the right to the left. There is a preference for abandon, laughter, rashness and non-cooperation, for busting our asses before screwing, tickling and disarming.

In June, just before the events at Curuguaty that triggered the impeachment of President Lugo - a parliamentary coup - the Paraguayan house of representatives approved a draft law on professional soldiers with some amendments. It now still has to be approved by the Senate, but there is little doubt that the law will pass there without problems.

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