Paraguayan Peasant Leader Assassinated
Gunmen kill spokesman for the landless
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2012 2:00 AM CST
Vidal Vega, left, holds a banner during a march in Paraguay earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

(Newser) – Gunmen have murdered one of the surviving leaders of a peasant movement whose land dispute with a powerful politician prompted the end of Fernando Lugo's presidency earlier this year. After he stepped outside his home to feed his farm animals, Vidal Vega, 48, was hit four times by bullets from a 12-gauge shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver fired by two unidentified men who sped away on a motorcycle, police say. Vega was among the public faces of a commission of landless peasants from the settlement of Yby Pyta, which means Red Dirt in their native Guarani language.

Vega had lobbied the government for many years to redistribute some of the ranchland that a powerful senator from the Colorado Party, which ruled the country for 61 years until 2008, began occupying in the 1960s. By last May, the peasants finally lost patience and moved onto the land. A firefight during their eviction in June killed 11 peasants and six police officers, prompting the Colorado Party and other leading parties to vote Lugo out of office for allegedly mismanaging the dispute.