Tuesday, May 18

Tension intensifies in Paraguay with new protests

The protests in Paraguay have once again increased the climate of tension.

The protests in Paraguay have once again increased the climate of tension.

Police forces dispersed after midnight on Saturday a group of people who concentrated in front of the presidential residence and tried to cross the perimeter security barrier, in an area where the United States embassy is located, and in the framework of the protests that demand the resignation of President Mario Abdo Benítez.

The National Police, together with the anti-riot corps, responded with rubber pellets and gases and carried out about a dozen arrests, as informed to the journalists police spokesmen.

The group had traveled to the presidential residence in Asunción to ask for the resignation of the president after another massive demonstration with the same claim ended and denounced the lack of medicines in hospitals and the government’s management of the pandemic.

The group that tried to approach Mburuvicha Roga, the name of the president’s official residence, had demanded to meet with the Minister of the Interior, Arnaldo Giuzzio, and when he did not appear they tried to cross the perimeter barrier, one of its leaders told the media . According to the police, protesters threw stones and firecrackers in the vicinity of the residence to retreat later due to the intervention of the security forces.

The incident occurred after the large demonstration in the historic center of the capital, which called for the departure of Abdo Benítez, from the conservative Colorado Party. And one day after the concentration in front of the Congress building that was repressed by the Police, which was followed by clashes that left about twenty wounded.

During the march on Saturday afternoon, Abdo Benítez announced in a televised message the renewal of four of his ministers, including those of health (interim) and education, “in the interests of pacification.

“I am a person of dialogue, not confrontation, and My commitment is to listen to everyone, both those who approve of our Government and those who do not, “said the president, who said that other changes will be evaluated this week. Likewise, the president, of the conservative Colorado Party, promised to that the Ministry of Health will make every effort to obtain supplies in a timely manner.

“The mandate will be to make all possible efforts to guarantee the population the provision of medicines in a timely manner with strict respect for the administrative processes in force,” he said.

The current situation originated earlier this week with protests by nurses and relatives of Covid patients who denounced the lack of supplies in the public health network, one of the most backward in the region. This was followed on Friday by the resignation of the Minister of Health, Julio Mazzoleni, which did not prevent the protest in the afternoon and evening on Saturday.

According to his message, the changes affect the Minister of Education, Eduardo Petta, highly criticized by the union of teachers and student sectors, and the Minister of Women, Nilda Romero, questioned since this month he proposed to recognize the president with reason for the celebration of Paraguayan Women’s Day.

The other position dismissed is the Chief of Staff of the Presidency, Juan Ernesto Villamayor, with the rank of minister, who this January was questioned in Congress for a meeting held with emissaries of Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader.

In that meeting, which was criticized when it was known through a US medium, the reduction of Paraguay’s oil debt with the Venezuelan state was discussed, which according to Villamayor did not come to fruition due to the lack of guarantees that the court Parisian who arbitrates the case will validate the agreement.

The South American country registers some 3,200 deaths and more than 160,000 cases of coronavirus and a sustained increase in recent weeks that has collapsed the health system.


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