Paraguay: Catholic Church calls for investigation of Curuguaty massacre
The Catholic Church in Paraguay has called for the government to to accelerate the investigation into the massacre of Curuguaty and determine those responsible for the events of June 15 of this year. Demonstrations by farmers in favor of redistribution of land turned into violent confrontations under still mysterious circumstances. Eleven civilians were killed, along with six police officers as authorities tried to dislodge demonstraters. It has been theorized that the police officers were felled by snipers.
The events in Curuguaty, a rural area in Paraguay, precipitated the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo, a heretofore champion of the poor in largely rural Paraguay. While the Organization of American States has concluded that the impeachment of the populist president - a former Catholic bishop - was done according to law, Lugo's allies in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela have since undertaken measures to isolate the landlocked nation through diplomatic maneuvers.
The conference of Catholic bishops of Paraguay released a statement on November 24 expressly requesting that the government of President Federico Franco should "speed up the investigation to determine who is responsible related to the painful events of Curuguaty." The statement added, "We appeal to the Christian conscience of the public authorities to clarify the facts under investigation and carry out justice."
So far, some 50 people have been charged in connection with the events at Curuguaty, while only 12 have been arrested. Four of them are under house arrest after engaging in a hunger strike. The other defendants are still being pursued.
Bishop Mario Melanio Medina Salinas, Bishop of San Juan Bautista de las Misiones, said that law must prevail in the Curuguaty case, declaring himself in favor of the hunger-strikers. The bishop expressed sympathy for them, following reports that they had fallen ill after several days of the hunger strike. The bishop said, "They cannot remain detained if there is no evidence against them." Church officials suggest that if prosecutors and judges feel incompetent, they must pass the trial on to other judges.
Natasha McKenna was shocked four times with a police Taser while in custody. She died in a coma later.
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