Apr 12, 2012

Farmers in Chihuahua Protest Lack of Government Aid

La Jornada: (Americas Program Original Translation)

Hundreds of farmers from 18 of the 67 municipalities in the state protested in the capital, complaining about a lack of government aid to rural areas, while the governor, César Duarte Jáques, reported in Ciudad Juárez that the state had recorded losses of more than 4 billion pesos due to drought and frost, to the detriment of agricultural and livestock production.

At noon on Wednesday, about 600 laborers and producers affiliated with the Democratic Peasant Front marched through the streets of the city; they left the delegations of the Ministries of Social Development (SEDESO) and Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) toward the seat of state government.

There, they demanded that the federal and state governments deliver aid like corn seed and beans, as well as fertilizers to rural areas in order to prepare for the agricultural cycle which will begin next month in the time zone.

Annoyed, farmers claimed that despite numerous promises made by the governor and President Felipe Calderón, proper relief is not being provided to the producers, or if it is delivered, it is done so selectively with electoral purposes in mind.

Shouting and carrying banners, the inhabitants of towns like Cuauhtémoc, Santa Isabel, Namiquipa, Riva Palacio, and Guerrero, demanded equal treatment and timely delivery of aid by the state and federal agencies.

In the local Congress, members of the PRI claimed SAGARPA has also cut more than 200 million pesos of rural investment programs from its budget and the delay of state aid was due to bureaucracy or political motivations.

On a trip to Ciudad Juárez, Duarte Jaquez gave an account of the damage to the agricultural sector: more than 300,000 cattle dead, over 250,000 hectares were not harvested due to a lack of rain, and production of beans and corn dropped by 125,000 and 500,000 tons respectively.

The PRI governor said that over a million residents of the state depended on agriculture and livestock and are members of lower income families.

He complained that despite the crisis in rural Chihuahua, SAGARPA has not responded with a timely delivery of aid, nor the funds allocated by the regular budget or emergency funds promised by Felipe Calderón.

In this context, Chihuahua farmers resumed the export of cattle, which had been suspended a few days earlier, said Octavio Legarreta, the Secretary of State for Rural Development.

He explained that exports were resumed when it was shown that the cattle were healthy and the problem of mouth sores were due to drought. See Spanish original

(With information from Rubén Villalpando)

Translation by Michael Kane, Americas Program

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