win talks over pay by crucifying themselves 
in row

The Paraguayan government agreed to meet former workers who have nailed themselves to wooden crosses over a wage dispute.

It is an increasingly common form of protest in Paraguay that has been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church but has often been successful.

Four men and one woman have been nailed to crosses for several weeks and a sixth person had planned to join them yesterday until Paraguay’s work ministry agreed to meet the protesters on January 26.

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“With this news, we will cancel the sixth crucifixion,” said organiser Carlos Gonzalez, but he added that the other five would remain nailed to crosses.

The workers claim they are owed several thousand dollars for work many years ago on the Itaipu Dam, which is on the Parana River shared by Paraguay and Brazil.

The dam, one of the world’s biggest hydroelectric projects, is jointly administered by the two countries.

Ignacio Martiez, a political analyst, said crucifixion protests that began a decade ago are successful because Paraguay’s government tends to address whoever “yells the loudest”.

The latest protest began on December 8 outside the Brazilian Embassy when Roque Samudio, 58, Gerardo Orue, 49 and Roberto Gonzalez, 61, all unemployed, were the first to lie down on large wooden crosses and have three-inch nails driven into their hands.

In recent weeks they were joined by Pablo Garcete, 71, and Rosa Caceres, 52, a mother of nine whose former husband worked on the dam.

Organisers say at least 20 other people are prepared to be nailed to crosses. They say some 9,000 workers are owed about $40,000 (£26,400).

The protesters spend the day lying in the crucifix position on crosses flat on the ground, drinking juice, water and milk while volunteers fan them during blistering summer days.