Paraguay: Protester killed in clashes with police as senate vote sparks riots across Asuncion

Senate votes for constitutional amendment allowing the President to run for re-election

Daniela Desantis
Asuncion
Saturday 01 April 2017 17:13
Comments

A protester was killed in Paraguay after a secret Senate vote for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election sparked violent clashes and the country's Congress was stormed and set alight.

Rodrigo Quintana, 25, was killed by a rubber bullet fired by police in the headquarters of the liberal youth activist group, the Paraguayan opposition said.

The interior ministry said in a statement an investigation into Quintana's death would be opened. His doctor said he had suffered a severe head injury.

On Saturday activists were arriving in Paraguay's capital Asuncion from the landlocked country's interior in a sign the violent protests that resulted in a fire in the first floor of Congress on Friday could continue.

Cartes called for calm and a rejection of violence in a statement released on Twitter. He promised the government would do its best to maintain order.

Firefighters managed to control the flames after protesters left the building late on Friday, although protests and riots continued in other parts of Asuncion and elsewhere in the country into the early hours of Saturday.

Around 200 protesters were detained, police said, and shops and government buildings were vandalised.

Several politicians and journalists were injured, local media reported, and Interior Minister Tadeo Rojas said several police were hurt. One member of the lower house of Congress, who had been participating in protests that afternoon, underwent surgery after being hit by rubber bullets.

Meetings for the Inter-American Development Bank's annual board of governors were beginning as scheduled on Saturday in a rare high-level international event in Paraguay.

While Paraguay has long suffered from political uncertainty, the soy and beef-exporting nation has been attracting investment in agriculture and manufacturing sectors in recent years as Cartes offered tax breaks to foreign investors.

Instability in the country of 6.8 million is a concern for its much larger neighbours Brazil and Argentina.

The Senate voted on Friday during a special session in a closed office rather than on the Senate floor. Twenty-five lawmakers voted for the measure, two more than the 23 required for passage in the 45-member upper chamber.

Opponents of the measure, who claim it would weaken Paraguay's democratic institutions, said the vote was illegal.

The proposal will also require approval by the House, where it appeared to have strong support. A vote which had been expected early on Saturday was called off until the situation calmed down, said the chamber's president, Hugo Velazquez.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in