OLP condemns the visit of President of Paraguay to the Old City of Jerusalem

Paraguay and Israel are looking to expand economic and cultural cooperation, particularly in technology and agriculture.

 Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes is looking to strengthen ties with Israel Tuesday during the final day of his three-day visit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In addition to addressing economic, social, and cultural cooperation with Netanyahu on Tuesday, Cartes also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday to discuss agreements on technology, agriculture, and education.

The Paraguayan president will also meet with opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Tuesday and visit an engineering school.

The Jerusalem Post called Cartes a “rare ally in South America,” along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Cartes lauded “an exciting and historic time” for both countries and welcomed the broadened cooperation. In recent years, Paraguayan officials have heralded the South American country as the entry point for Israeli technology in Latin America, while Israeli politicians have hailed its “favorable” tax system and “stable business environment.”

But Cartes’ visit hasn’t been without controversy. The Palestine Liberation Organization slammed the Paraguayan head of state for visiting the Old City of Jerusalem in occupied Palestinian territories as part of his diplomatic agenda.
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Paraguay Campesinos Sentenced for 2012 Coup-Sparking Massacre

The Curuguaty massacre of six police officers and 11 campesinos has never been fully investigated, leaving the details vague despite its huge political significance.

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Eleven Paraguayan campesinos will be sentenced to up to 40 years Monday for their role in the 2012 massacre of 17 people in Curuguaty during a violent standoff between landless farmers and police. The incident was the pretext for right-wing Paraguayan legislators´ parliamentary coup that ousted the populist President Fernando Lugo.

The case has deepened political tensions in Paraguay, with many describing the campesinos as political prisoners, and the trial in which they were convicted as farcical. Campesinos maintain that their movement was infiltrated by undercover police officers who are responsible for the deaths of six police officers and 11 campesinos during violent clashes that ensued when more than 300 riot police forcefully evicted some 60 peasants from the Marina Kue they had occupied in May of 2012.

The suspects,  including two minors at the time and relatives of campesinos killed in the massacre, were convicted of murder, invasion of property and other charges, and  face between five and 40 years in jail. According to the Argentine news publication Notas, prosecutors have only investigated the death of the police officers. None of the riot police officers were put on trial for their actions.

Four years later, relatives and supporters of the eleven convicted campesinos demand that the so-called political prisoners be acquitted of all charges. Five women, including mothers of the accused, have chained themselves to a gate outside the courthouse for nearly a week to protest the impending sentence and demand a thorough investigation into what happened in Marina Kue.

The women’s sit-in is the latest in a series of demonstrations by relatives, campesino organizations, and members of the Catholic Church to reach a just outcome in the case.

“The Attorney General is only there to deliver justice to those who pay and to condemn campesinos,” Mariano Castro, father of two of the prisoners facing jail time for the massacre, said during a rally last week. “It’s all too clear for us, the campesinos, how this institution is run … it’s used politically.”

“That’s why we all have to wake up and organize ourselves and take these institutions back from those who warm the seats and receive orders from above,” Castro continued amid chants from the crowd calling for President Horacio Cartes to resign.

Paraguay’s Parliamentary Coup and Conservative Revival:

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