Paraguay deploys anti-narco top guns to combat economic need for weed
Paraguay has adopted slash and burn tactics to tackle cannabis growers, but poor farmers need help finding other ways to support themselves
Published in the Guardian on June 25th, 2015.
PEDRO JUAN CABALLERO, PARAGUAY -- Néstor was 14 when a local drug trafficker first hired him to help bring in the harvest. “They need 20 to 30 people, because you have to harvest an entire hectare in two or three days while there’s a gap in the rains,” he says. “When the marijuana’s ready, you can’t leave it for long.”
Growing up on the outskirts of Pedro Juan Caballero, a lawless town on Paraguay’s north-eastern border with Brazil, wasn’t easy. His father, a ranch manager, was away from home for three months at a time. His mother washed clothes to put food on the table.
“Then they approach you, and say they’re going to pay you 80,000 guaraníes [£9.56; $15] a day, with an advance. You know how much your family is in need, so you’re forced to take it. And then you’re committed. That’s why everyone gets corrupted and goes to work there.”