Land Disputes Key In Impeachment Of Paraguay's President Lugo

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Jun 23 20:44:42 BST 2012

Latin America's Old Land Disputes Resurface In 
Impeachment Of Paraguay's President
By Ryan Villarreal: - June 22, 2012 6:15 PM EDT
Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo has come under 
fire from lawmakers over his handling of the 
attempted eviction of landless farmers in 
Canindeyu province last week that resulted in a 
bloody clash leaving seven police officers and at 
least nine farmers dead. Impeachment proceedings 
began Friday, less than 24 hours after both 
chambers of Congress voted to approve them. Lugo 
refused to attend the trial, describing it as an 
"express coup d'etat" that was carried out "in 
the wee hours of the night." "The president has 
been given fewer guarantees and fewer rights to 
defend himself than someone with a traffic fine," 
said Adolfo Ferreiro, a lawyer on Lugo's defense 
team, Reuters reported. "They seem to think 
anything can be justified in the name of 
politics."  Lugo's political opponents, who 
dominate the Paraguayan legislature, are seeking 
his ouster over the eviction incident, in which 
300 police officers fired upon 150 farmers after 
the farmers had ambushed their forces on a 
4,900-acre estate, refusing to be evicted from 
the property. Whether or not the motivations for 
Lugo's impeachment are purely political, the 
trial highlights the real grievances of 
Paraguay's landless farmers in a country where 
nearly 80 percent of the land is controlled by 
only 1 percent of the population. The farmers 
claimed the estate, owned by a wealthy political 
opponent of Lugo, had been taken from them during 
the 35-year military rule of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner from 1954 to 1989.
Under Stroessner, 
thousands of acres of land had been seized from 
poor farmers and redistributed to members of the 
military and social elite. Stroessner was 
eventually ousted by a military coup, although 
his right-wing political faction, the Colorado 
Party, remained entrenched and held the 
presidency until 2003. During this period of 
"democratic reform," the issue of land 
expropriations went unaddressed. Lugo, an 
independent left-wing member of the center-left 
Patriotic Alliance for Change, or PAC, coalition, 
was voted into office in 2008 on a platform of 
land reform that would benefit Paraguay's 
disenfranchised farmers, who represent 40 percent of the population.
While Lugo has addressed many concerns of 
Paraguay's poor and working class through 
improved social services such as public housing, 
medical care, and cash subsidies for the most 
impoverished, he has made little headway on land 
reform, largely due to resistance among the 
moderates in the PAC coalition. "Lugo has been a 
politically weak president from the outset of his 
term. He has been struggling to hold together his 
shaky coalition," said Michael Shifter, president 
of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in 
Washington, the Associated Press reported. 
Nevertheless, Lugo retains strong support among 
Paraguay's poor and working class, and his 
impeachment trial has been met with mass public 
protests led by his supporters. The Paraguayan 
Senate is expected to hold a vote on whether to 
remove Lugo from office Friday. If he is removed, 
he will be replaced by Vice President Federico 
Franco. "If presidents were ousted because of the 
reasons cited in this case, there would be few 
Latin American presidents left in office," 
Shifter was quoted as saying by AP. "The 
opposition simply didn't agree with Lugo's 
policies and didn't approve of the way he 
governed. As a result, the opposition manipulated 
the system, adhering to the letter of the law but 
departing from the principle of democracy."

Land Rights in Australia: The Mabo Case Twenty Years On
by Binoy Kampmark / June 4th, 2012
The destruction of ideas, suggested the British 
aphorist Geoffrey Madan, is much like the setting 
of a beautiful sunset. With the stoning of the 
terra nullius doctrine in the Mabo case of 1992 
and the pronouncement that native title had 
survived colonial settlement in 1788, the 
Australian legal system was propelled into a 
post-colonial era. The sun had indeed set upon a 
doctrine. New legislation had to be drafted. 
Native title, it seemed, had survived like buried 
water in the bore of jurisprudence. It took the 
Mason-led High Court to reveal that. The decision 
was shattering to the establishment, and made the 
heckles of the conservative establishment visibly ugly.
The decision of June 3, 1992 validated the claims 
to native title by the Meriam people over the 
Murray Islands which are annexed to the state of 
Queensland. The applicants were not only told 
that a recognised system of land ownership 
pre-dated settlement but that land which had not 
had native title removed could count as theirs as 
long as they could prove a customary association 
with it. The federal Native Title Act 1993 was 
thereby introduced to provide some framework to assess these claims.
The High Court was subsequently assailed in 
various quarters for its activism. Sir Anthony 
Mason, then Chief Justice of the High Court, 
‘foresaw that the judgment would be controversial 
but as often happens you don’t actually foresee 
the extent of the controversy’ (ABC, Four 
Corners, May 10). Justice Brennan of the High 
Court was attacked as having the judicial 
discretion that had been watered by a ‘cleansing 
ale’ – and discussions with his Jesuit brother 
Father Frank Brennan, a long term advocate for indigenous rights.
The members of the Samuel Griffith Society 
huddled in monastic fervour, fearing the 
destabilising effects of such judicial 
enthusiasm. Visions of a vengeful dark Australia 
marching forth, and off, with land came in a 
rush. And those effects were profound – the 
creation, under the Keating government, of a 
system of Federal Native Title that was as controversial as it was moving.
Prime Minister Paul Keating’s language on the 
subject of native title in the Redfern speech six 
months after Mabo remain the most smouldering and 
searing. ‘It begins, I think with an act of 
recognition. Recognition that it was we who did 
the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands 
and smashed the traditional way of life. We 
brought the diseases and alcohol. We committed 
the murders. We took the children from their 
mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion.’
A very loud conservative reaction lay in the 
separatism the decision potentially encouraged. 
It flew in the face of integration and national 
solidarity. A ‘happy’ Australia was suddenly 
creased with doubt. Justice Enfield of the 
Federal Court, in July 1993, rebuked such 
characters as Hugh Morgan of the Western Mining 
Corporation for language that stirred racial 
hatred. Morgan had spoken of that ‘naïve 
adventurism’ in the court that had failed to 
protect property. The assimilation project, it 
seems, had not only assumed the mantle of a 
mantra, it looked like it was being undermined by judicial indiscretion.
The miners and pastoralists feared that their 
entitlements to land were about to end. Former 
Western Australian Premier Richard Court was 
particularly aggrieved – given that seven percent 
of the state was freehold, the rest of the land 
might well be up for claims. Many demanded that 
the states be allowed to regulate the issue and 
ultimately extinguish native title altogether. 
The land managers were desperate to move in and 
clean up. The commonwealth baulked at the suggestion.
Western Australia subsequently attempted an act 
of extinguishment on its own accord. The act was 
challenged in the High Court and found wanting 
against the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination 
Act. The outraged premier considered it an 
‘insult’ that the state act could be deemed racially discriminatory at all.
The legacy of Mabo today reveals no avalanche of 
land claims. Many, in any case, have failed. The 
infamous attempt in 1993 on the part of the 
Wiradjuri people to claim a third of New South 
Wales came to nought. This does little to stop 
such minor publishing outfits as Australian News 
Commentary to feature articles on ‘the great land 
give-away’ (Sep 22, 2003), and the fears that 
non-Indigenous Australians are themselves going 
to be ‘dispossessed’. The ‘megalomaniac at the 
desk’ as former opposition John Hewson accused 
Keating of being, succeeded in pushing what had, 
a few months before, seemed an impossible notion. 
The question now remains how far the Mabo legacy 
has come and where on the rough road to 
reconciliation it features on. For indigenous 
Australians, the answer is simply not far enough. 
That in itself hardly undermines the stellar 
legacy of one of Australia’s most remarkable acts 
of judicial involvement, which placed 
reconciliation on the agenda in the first place.
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"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered 
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27

Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend.  
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