HomeNewsHow Contraband Tomatoes are Hurting Paraguay's Economy
NEWS

How Contraband Tomatoes are Hurting Paraguay's Economy

ARGENTINA / 8 OCT 2021 BY ALICIA FLOREZ EN

Worsening poverty in Paraguay during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in food being smuggled into the country through its borders with Argentina and Brazil.

In late September, anti-smuggling officials seized 20 tons of contraband onions that had entered the country irregularly from Argentina. This comes on the heels of Paraguayan farmers sounding the alarm about the domestic market being flooded with cheap chicken, also illegally imported from Argentina.

This year, other contraband alerts have included thousands of boxes of tomatoes seized from Brazil, as well as green peppers, due to a scarcity of the vegetable in Paraguayan markets. All were brought in without the required documentation.

SEE ALSO: All About Contraband

Food sellers told the media that smuggling agricultural products into the country was relatively easy since products from abroad could be packaged as Paraguayan products and sold as such.

Contraband, including food, is almost normalized in Paraguay. But the phenomenon has increased during the pandemic, alarming farmers and officials alike.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the demand for contraband is understandable given the rising poverty rates in Paraguay, the knock-on economic impact is very real. Since these products are usually sold cheaper than domestic options, the brunt of the effect is being felt by producers and food merchants who cannot sell their own produce.

And the country's controls to block food contraband are proving to be ineffective.

For example, legal imports of specific products such as green peppers, a favorite ingredient in the country, are restricted to favor domestic production. But given the current scarcity, the illegal market has stepped in.

This has happened regularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paraguay's sugar industry was crippled during the pandemic, with legal sales dropping from 7,000 tons a month prior to quarantine measures to 1,000 tons a month now. In response, tons of sugar, which Paraguay consumes in large amounts, have poured across the border illegally from Brazil.

SEE ALSO: Paraguay Profile

“People don't measure it, but contraband leaves people without work," Francisco Martino, a senior official in Paraguay's industrial union (Unión Industrial Paraguaya - UIP), told newspaper La Nación.

"Small producers of eggs, for example, who have less than 1,000 chickens, are saying they will close because it's not profitable anymore. Companies are beginning to close because of contraband," he added.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CONTRABAND / 19 JUN 2015

Nicaragua's government is facing growing calls to combat illegal livestock trafficking, an activity that frequently goes hand in hand with…

COLOMBIA / 24 JUN 2013

Criminal groups in Colombia are responsible for the distribution of millions of illegal cigarettes tied to Paraguay President-elect Horacio Cartes,…

COLOMBIA / 6 MAY 2019

A recent shootout at the main border crossing between Colombia and Venezuela and the killing of five people in another…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…