In Paraguay, land is still a factor that determines the living conditions of a majority of the population. Current land tenure is characterized by a huge concentration of land being put in the hands of a small group of landowners. This unequal distribution of land is the result of a long and contentious history that has caused the dispossession and uprooting of thousands of men and women in the countryside. Meanwhile, others have managed to remain in their communities through enormous sacrifice and willpower.
The factors that caused this complex system of land tenure are multiple. One of them is legislation regarding land ownership and access for the peasant and indigenous populations. However, it is important to mention that the current legislation has positive and negative characteristics. What aggravates the rural population’s situation is the way in which these laws are applied in practice by relevant agencies, where in certain respects they are rigorously enforced while in others the laws only exists on paper, as they are systematically violated to the detriment of peasants and indigenous people.
Paraguay has undergone strong demographic and productive transformations in recent decades, especially in the rural world, where there has been an expansion of productive models that are intensive in the use of capital and technologies, and in the exploitation of natural resources. This has brought a growing concentration of land in a decreasing number of productive units, and sustained migration from the countryside to urban areas, due to the expulsion and displacement of peasants and indigenous people from their lands.
Agriculture and livestock raising are among the most important economic activities in Paraguay, and they stand out both for their production levels and their exports. Paraguay is one of the main exporters of beef in the world and, in terms of agricultural production, is known for its world-level leadership in the export of sugar, soybeans, wheat and other agro-industrial crops. To achieve this, Paraguay has opened up completely to foreign capital and to the extractive model linked to the use of transgenic technology and agrochemicals.