Failures in Paraguay’s Justice System

I recently discussed the unequal justice in the case of violence between peasants and police in Paraguay that ultimately served as the alleged pretext for the removal of President Fernando Lugo last year. The first few lines in this story reveal just how broken Paraguay’s justice system is, at least in this particular case:

The prosecutor says he has no physical evidence showing who killed six police officers during a land dispute that prompted the downfall of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo. He says he didn’t even try to determine who killed 11 farmworkers who also died when the bullets started flying.

Even so, Jalil Rachid concluded that 10 peasants who survived the fusillade should be charged with attempted homicide, and punished by up to 25 years in prison. He’s also seeking lesser charges against four other people.

“It’s obvious that the farmworkers ambushed the police,” said Rachid, who spent six months investigating the clash.

So, to be clear – without any evidence or any investigation into the deaths of the farmers, the events are still “obvious”. The prosecutor has no evidence, put forth no effort to actually discover what happened in June, but had no problem immediately concluding it had to be the fault of the peasants (and not state agents trained to use force), and they should be sentenced to 25 years in jail. It’s hard to imagine a clearer example of how broken “justice” systems can become when elite interests, attitudes, and sympathies with the legal system go unchecked.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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