Border Issues: Smuggling and Armies

(Spanish language lesson o' the day: represa = dam)

Photo by Fernando Calistro, Ultima Hora

This may look like sun-brewed iced tea, but, nay, it's Argentine fuel smuggled into Paraguay. The price of oil has dropped over the past few months, as we all know well (which raises uncomfortable questions like: Has the demand for oil really plummeted 50%? What does that say about the economy? How unreasonably inflated was the price of oil?). The Paraguayan state oil/gas company, though, hasn't adjusted the price of fuel sold in the country and so people have taken to bringing over the goods from Argentina and selling them at market-prices.

Meanwhile, Paraguay accounts for 15% of global marijuana production. Most of this goes to the Brazilian market. As the country undertakes agrarian reform in an unprecedented way, as campesinos block streets and occupy large land-holdings, as homeless peasants and indigenous groups are forced off their own titled land, as soy producers indiscriminately spray pesticides on farm and village alike leading to miscarriages and deformed babies, this just adds another twist to the tangled knot.

More problems with Brazilian troops too close to the Paraguayan border, this time just north of ItaipĂș at Salto de Guaira. Brazil's ambassador, summoned to give an explanation, said that the border was not crossed.

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