Paraguay: punished by law for wanting to recycle batteries?

Rubén Figueredo is disputing a 2 years sentence for collecting technological waste

Paraguay: punished by law for wanting to recycle batteries?

Leer en Español: Ambientalista paraguayo en problemas legales por recolectar baterías

Rubén Figueredo was the president of the Itá Enramada organization, an environmental association that collected technological wastes to avoid contamination in Paraguay. However, recently, a judge declared the environmentalist guilty of keeping toxic waste within the facility. Figueredo was condemned to 2 years in prison for collecting this kind of waste without the alleged necessary methods of treatment.

The case

In 2007, the organization and Ruben Figueredo started a national campaign to collect batteries and technological wastes from various places. The idea was to collect the toxic trash and then send it to the adequate recycle center.

At the beginning the campaign they didn't receive much feedback; within time, it gained national recognition.  According to Esteban Aranda, current president of Itá Enramada, just the organization itself collected 27 tons of batteries and technological waste over the last 5 years.

"At the beginning, schools, the Paraguayan Ministry of Environment, and many other organizations adhered to the campaign and declared the cause of national importance. Even the General Attorney adhered and supported the campaign. All the public organizations congratulated Figueredo and the group because of said movement", stated Aranda to the Latin American Post.

When the organization started seeing the results of the campaign, they offered municipalities to help them search for adequate locations to deposit old batteries and prevent contamination. However, Aranda explained to the media outlet, "the municipalities don't do anything because it represented money".

However, what at the beginning was a victory against pollution, then it became a legal problem; the Paraguayan National Attorney accused Figueredo and the organization of collecting waste without the necessary equipment. The prosecutors used the 716/96 law of the Paraguayan Civil Code of crimes against the environment.

As of right now, Figueredo is free but waiting for the Paraguayan Appellate Tribunal to take the last decision.

The current president of Itá Enramada assured the LatinAmerican Post that Figueredo became a victim of legal persecution. Aranda said that while they were finding a place to send technological waste, Figueredo lead the campaign and continued denouncing many environmental problems in Paraguay, like deforestation. The organization assured that there were people annoyed with Figueredo and needed to stop him. According to Aranda, they used the excuse of having 27 tons of batteries within the facility.

According to Esteban Aranda, within the country there isn't a regulation that explains how many batteries can be held within a home before it is a crime and the Government doesn't give answers to the population. For the Paraguayan Government it is a crime keeping batteries within a household, but it's also a crime and dangerous to throw them away in the garbage, because it contaminates the earth; people don’t know what to do with these.

"The Government of the capital city of Paraguay doesn't even know what a battery is. They don't have a project, program, or campaign to manage and discard these toxic elements (...) there is no other alternative but to throw the battery and contaminate", stated Aranda.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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