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Say no to impunity for the killers of Silvino Talavera

showing pictures in the Paraguayan embassyTo this end, we ask you to spread this message and to send the letter below to Paraguayan institutions and to the embassies of Paraguay in your countries.

It is more than 3 years since Petrona Villasboa, (Silvano’s mother) together with CONAMURI, The National Coordinator of Organizations of Rural and Indigenous Women Workers, (a member of Via Campesina), started to work on the case of Silvano’s murder by the soybean producers Hermann Schlender and Alfred Laustenlage, who indiscriminately fumigated the boy and contaminated the whole family.

The Talavera Villasboa family live surrounded by monocultures of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically engineered soy, the aggressive marketing and consequent use of which has been the cause of the exponential increase in glyphosate spraying over the Paraguayan countryside and its people.

Due to the indiscriminate use of a cocktail of agrotoxics, a wave of illnesses is sweeping through Paraguayan peasant families, on top of the poverty that condemns this population under siege by mechanized monocultures.

The government has closed its eyes shut to this murderous practices, refusing to correlate these deaths and illnesses to the model of production of genetically modified soy.

This situation extends to the whole of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, where every day there are more cases of children and adults who suffer respiratory problems and serious chronic illness, with little or no condemnation from official quarters. The soybean Agrobusiness is powerful and the agroexport model is a state policy which is neither discussed nor challenged in the South.

In this sense the struggle of Petrona Villasboa together with CONAMURI in search of justice for the murder of Silvino is a reference and a benchmark for thousands of families affected by agrotoxics.

Faced with this situation of injustice and impunity, despite the enormous efforts undertaken so far to obtain an answer from the Paraguayan justice system; we ask for national and international solidarity of sister organizations, institutions and individuals to demand from the representatives of the judicial system and the government of Paraguay to see justice done for Silvino and his family.

There is just a period of a few weeks left before the court case expires on the 4th of December 2006.

We will be organizing actions and mobilizations throughout the month of November to achieve justice for Silvino Talavera.

Dear friends, you can find out more information about this campaign in the Justice for Silvino Talavera website as well as being able to publish your thoughts, support messages and signatures to this call out.

In Solidarity,

CONAMURI and the Support group for the Silvino Talavera campaign, CODEHUP, SobreVivencia, CECTEC, BASEIS, Altervida, CEIDRA, A SEED Europe, Social Equity in Environmental Decisions (SEEDS), GRR-Argentina.

For a list of official addresses to send messages expressing your opposition and support, see the end of this message.

For more information in Spanish see: http://www.silvinotalavera.phy.ca
or email <conamuri [at] rieder.net.py> or <baseis [at] baseis.org.py>.

For info in english, dutch, italian, french and german contact: nina [at] corporateeurope.org


Please send letters and messages addressed to the following, with copy (cc:) to

Dr. Raul Kirmse Towers, email: eticajudicial@pj.gov.py, fax: +595 21 425 493

With Copy to:


Ana Maria Juanita Mendoza de Acha, email: amendoza@senado.gov.py


Candido Vera Bejarano, email: vbejarano@senado.gov.py


Jose Nicholas Morínigo, email: Alcarazjnmorinigo@senado.gov.py


email: ddhh@senado.gov.py

‘example’ letter

Dear Ministers,
Consejo de Superintendencia de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, Republic of Paraguay

We address you to voice our concern in relation to the case “Querella criminal c/ Lauro. A.Laustenlager y Hermann Schlender s/ producción de riesgos comunes y homicidio culposo en Pirapey”, which investigates the murder of the child Silvino Talavera, who died from acute poisoning after being sprayed with agrotoxics in 2003 by the soya producers Hermann Schlender and Alfred Laustenlager in Itapua, Paraguay.

It has been over 3 years since the legal process started and up until today it has yet to be resolved; because the statutory time limit is due to expire, the case could be dropped this coming December, without the Paraguayan Justice System having delivered a verdict in the death of Silvino Talavera.

In the state of Itapua, in 2003, Silvino Talavera was 11 years of age when he was sprayed with an agrotoxic cocktail used to fumigate “RoundUp Ready” soy fields. The spraying also contaminated the food that Silvino was carrying which consequently meant the poisoning of 22 members of his family.

As well as Silvino, his sisters Sofía (13) and Patricia (2), had to be hospitalised during the following days due to the extreme exposure to agrotoxics that they had suffered. When the health of the children had stabilized they returned home, but again this family was exposed to more fumigations, this time by another soya growing neighbour.

Silvino didn’t survive this second attack and died a few days later. Phenol, carbamatol and glysophate were found in the blood of the children. The whole family group is at present suffering from an ever worsening health profile due to the indiscriminate use of agrotoxins in the region. On the 11th of September this year, five month old Vidal Ocampos, son of Sofia Talavera (Silvino’s sister, now 17) also died. The baby died due to hydrocephalus, a deformity of the central nervous system related to agrotoxics exposure.
The family has received incredible pressure to drop the court case, including death threats.

In the first court case dealing with the death of Silvino Talavera in the year 2004, Hermann Schlender and Alfred Laustenlager were found guilty of manslaughter and production of risks to the public (Article 203 criminal code). The trial was stopped on the grounds of a motion brought by the defendants. A second trial in June produced another quilty verdict, but the soy producers appealed against the two year sentence immediately. The tribunal had 2 weeks to make a follow up declaration, according to article 471 of the penal code process; however 15 months have passed without a decision on the case.

This whole situation, in practice, implies a delay and denial of justice; it is extremely serious, as in addition to the death of a child, the natural means of sustenance and good health of his whole family have been terribly damaged.
Enduring great difficulties, they have survived the profound after-effects of their own poisoning by agrotoxics, on top of the grief from the death of a young family member.

Therefore we ask:

– THAT the Supreme Court of Justice, in compliance with its own function as Superintendent’s Office (Law n. 609/95), demands from the Appeal Court’s members under whose jurisdiction this case falls, to fulfil the duties established for the judges, that is, in this case, to resolve an appeal posed.

– THAT the Supreme Court of Justice investigates the possible irregularities that are causing this unnecessary delay of justice for the family of Silvino Talavera.

– THAT the Supreme Court of Justice intervenes by all means necessary to ensure that the murder of Silvino Talavera is not exempt from punishment and that a path begins to be traced towards the Right to live in a healthy environment being recognized as a Basic Human Right for each and every citizen, tow, village dweller, peasant and indigenous men and women living on Paraguayan soil.

We seize the opportunity to urge you to take under consideration the points exposed in this letter and above all, we beg you not to forget the many victims of agrochemical contamination who are spread all over Paraguay.

Yours sincerely,