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Paraguay protesters take tractors to the streets

  • Story Highlights
  • Protesters say they want an end to violence against laborers and the right to work
  • Organizers say they parked vehicles along nearly 700 miles of roads in Paraguay
  • Protest set to conclude with mass rally Tuesday in Paraguay's capital
  • There's been no immediate response from top government officials
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ASUNCION, Paraguay (CNN) -- In what Paraguayans are calling "el tractorazo," protesters parked thousands of tractors and other heavy machinery alongside roads throughout the nation Monday to demand greater security.

The protesters say they want an end to violence against laborers and the right to work. There has been an increase in the past few weeks of invasions of farms and other property by people who have no land. There also have been attacks against workers, and tractors have been burned.

"We want a Paraguay in peace, with equal opportunity to get ahead through hard work and mutual respect, not based on violence. That's why we started the 'tractorazo,' " Hector Cristaldo, president of the Union of Workers' Guild, was quoted as saying by the PPN national news agency.

Workers need solutions, he said, not just the speeches from officials they have heard up to now.

There was no immediate response from President Fernando Lugo or other top government officials.

Union leaders said they want an end to violence in all aspects of Paraguayan society.

"We don't want any more deaths from the robberies of cell phones and backpacks, just like we don't want any more farms burned or invasions of private properties," said Claudia Russer of the Association of Soybean Producers.

"We assure everyone and guarantee that we will not close any roads."

Protest organizers, which include agricultural and industrial workers, estimate they parked vehicles along nearly 700 miles of roadways nationwide.

The protest is scheduled to end Tuesday with a mass rally in Asuncion, Paraguay's capital and largest city.

Journalist Sanie Lopez Garelli contributed to this report.

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