SANTA ROSA DEL AGUARAY, Paraguay – Representatives of the Catholic Church in northern Paraguay called on Wednesday for greater social investment as a way to help eradicate the violence perpetrated by the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) guerrillas in that region.
Sentiments in favor of development policies were expressed during the inter-sector dialogue session organized in Santa Rosa del Aguary by presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the April election for the opposition Win Alliance, Efrain Alegre and journalist Leonardo Rubin, respectively
The dialogue was pursued by Alegre, who is the candidate of the Liberal Party, the largest opposition force, by Rubin, by Father Cristian Paiva, one of the key figures in the region, and by former Bishop Melanio Medina.
Paiva said at the event that security in the north results not only from sending soldiers and police to the area to confront the EPP, which currently is holding hostage two Mennonite settlers and a police officer, but from greater attention to the people and via investments in education and sanitation.
“Investing must be done seriously, investing with responsibility in the social sector and having the northern zone as a priority,” said the clergyman.
Meanwhile, Msgr. Medina called for “realizable, firm and courageous proposals” in that area, something that the other participants echoed, including lawmakers for San Pedro province, the region hardest hit by the EPP.
Lawmaker Jose Ledesma emphasized the need for a greater “state presence with development policies in this northern zone ... (that) dignify people.”
His colleague, Pastor Vera, also a legislator from the same province, said that the solution lies in implementing a policy “that has the moral acceptance of the public, since the people must be in agreement with it for it to be effective.”
The round table discussion was organized this week by the Win Alliance with the aim of hearing the problems and suggestions of local residents and relatives of the EPP’s victims so that a state policy against the guerrillas can be developed.
Alegre said, however, that the meeting is just the beginning of efforts along these lines and insisted that “the most important thing is to listen to the victims.”
“We think that this should be the job of everyone and the product should be the state policy, which should implemented over the coming five, 10, 15 years ... Which will be (the time) needed to resolve so serious a question,” the Liberal candidate said.
Rubin, meanwhile, said that a state policy must be developed and implemented in the region regardless of who wins the general election in April.