The Casado territory 
(1886-2000)

After the War Against the Triple Alliance (1864-1870), where two-thirds of the Paraguayan population died, the government had to find new economic resources to rebuild the country. The State incurred a debt with two British finance companies and soon after, to repay the interests of the debt, it sold most of its state-owned territories to private entrepreneurs.

In 1886, Carlos Casado del Alisal bought 5,625,000 hectares of land from the Paraguayan State on the London stock exchange market, setting the basis of his “empire.” A tannin factory was built on the Paraguay River and its production continued until 1996. The tannin, a substance used to cure the leather, was produced by grinding quebracho logs into small fragment and then boiling them, and it was exported all over the world.

In 1928 - through the mediation of the U.S. general and financier Samuel McRoberts - the first group of German-speaking Mennonites from Russia bought 56,250 hectares of the Casado territory. Many others emulated this first group. The Mennonites managed to intensify the presence of cattle per hectare and to achieve a prosperous economic status in a few decades.   

In 1987, before the closing of the factory, a group of indigenous people successfully fought against the Casado company and the State in order to reclaim 30,000 hectares of land where to begin a new life, after nearly one hundred years of work in the factory. It is the birth of Territory Riacho Mosquito.

2000: Closing of the tannin factory

In the year 2000, the heirs of Carlos Casado del Alisal sold 600,000 hectares of land - what remained of the original territory - to Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the religious leader of the Unification Church, who hoped to establish the new Garden of Heaven there. Today, the main economic activity of the company, linked to the Unification Church, is to saw and sell lumber on the international market.

Since the closing of the factory, a group of ex-workers of the Casado company is trying to reclaim a portion of land in order to start small independent economic activities. The rest of the ex-company town is waiting for a new owner that will bring new jobs to the people.

Documents

Maps of the Casado territory 

(works by Elena Habre, Isabel Saffon and Valentina Bonifacio)

file jpgThe railway track
Author: Valentina Bonifacio
329 K
file jpg1 - Cronology of Land Tenure in the Casado Territory (1886-2000)
Author: Isabel Saffon
2.18 M
file jpg2 - Cronology of Land Tenure in the Casado Territory (2000-2016)
Author: Isabel Saffon
1.80 M
file jpg1 - Puerto Casado Economy (1886-2000)
Author: Elena Habre
1.68 M
file jpg2 - Puerto Casado Economy (2000-2016)
Author: Elena Habre
2.69 M
file pngThe Casado Territory in 1910
Author: Valentina Bonifacio
1.59 M

Family albums (courtesy of):   Albino Ortega, Plutarco Gomez, Lazaro Prieto, Pablo asimi, Fidelina Britez, Tarcisio Sostoa, Bernardo De Giacomi, Liberato Amarilla, Desiderio Fernandez

Puerto Casado (forms and structures)  Photos by: Valentina Bonifacio

Portraits (retratos)  Photos by: Valentina Bonifacio