ASUNCION – Impoverished residents of a flood-prone area of the Paraguayan capital have a right to decent housing, Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel said Monday during a visit to the Bañado Norte neighborhood.
The 84-year-old Argentine activist and artist met with inhabitants of the area along the Paraguay River to discuss plans for a new road that the Cobañados organization says could force as many as 475 families from their homes.
Also present for the event with Perez Esquivel were Asuncion Mayor Mario Ferreiro and Paraguay’s national housing secretary, Soledad Nuñez, who said that the Costanera Norte road project will not require the displacement of the Bañado Norte families.
“Democracy means equal rights for everyone,” the Nobel laureate said. “If this is not respected, there is an unjust situation and a violation of the rights of the residents, who have been living here for decades.”
“They cannot be displaced with impunity,” he said. “There must be a solution.”
“Though the government must build public works such as this one in Costanera, it has to respect residents’ rights, their right to their homes, to see how community housing can be built. Because you have a right to decent housing, and to not be displaced and thrown out to make real estate deals,” Perez Esquivel said.
“The Bañado Norte people will stay in Bañado Norte, there’s no doubt about that,” Nuñez said.
The capital’s mayor said that the inhabitants of the Bañados areas need not just housing, but good public services.
“If we’re going to improve this zone, it’s no longer a minimal problem of a roof, but also of services that match those of the rest of the city,” Ferreiro said.