A protester was killed in Paraguay after violent clashes overnight sparked by a secret Senate vote for a constitutional amendment that would allow conservative President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election. The political move also had the support and Senate votes from the left leaning former removed president Fernando Lugo, which polls show he has significant support ahead of the 2018 presidential election.
The amendment was scheduled to be voted on Saturday by the Lower House, where it was expected to be approved, but given the violent protests and damage to Congress building it was postponed for the coming week.
However Paraguayan officials hosting a multilateral inter American finance and development conference pledged that the amendment once passed by Congress would require a binding popular referendum.
Meantime activists were seen arriving in Paraguay's capital Asunción on Saturday from the interior in a sign the protests that resulted in the country's Congress being stormed and set alight may go on.
Firefighters managed to control the flames on the building's first floor on Friday, although thousands of protesters rioted in other parts of Asuncion and elsewhere in the country into the early hours of Saturday.
Rodrigo Quintana, 25, was killed by a rubber bullet fired by police at the headquarters of a liberal youth activist group, the Paraguayan opposition said.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement an investigation would be opened into Quintana's death. His doctor said he had suffered a severe head injury. Around 200 protesters were detained, police said, and shops and government buildings were vandalized.
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 also being hit by rubber bullets in head and shoulder.
Prosecutors and lawmakers were reviewing damage to the Congress on Saturday.
Meetings for the Inter-American Development Bank's (IADB) annual board of governors went ahead as scheduled in a rare high-level international event in Paraguay.
IADB President Luis Alberto Moreno called for peace and dialogue and said Paraguay would continue to be a vital partner of the regional bank.
While Paraguay has long suffered from political uncertainty, the soy- and beef-exporting country has attracted investment in agriculture and manufacturing sectors in recent years as Cartes offered tax breaks to foreign investors.
We are saddened by what is happening, but it's the usual politics, Lea Gimenez, Paraguay's vice minister for economic affairs, told investors and journalists during a panel discussion.
Instability in the country of 6.8 million is a concern for its much larger neighbors Brazil and Argentina.
Paraguay's 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.
Gimenez also anticipated the IADB assembly that a popular binding referendum would also be required to change the law prohibiting re-election.
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We are saddened by what is happening, but it's the usual politicsApr 02nd, 2017 - 04:34 am 0
Certainly seem that way. Reminds me of a piece of music that came out before the election of Lugo, which broke a Colorado monopoly on the presidency after the decade of corrupution that followed Stroessner's overthrow. Note that the title should actually be spelled Añaracopeguare. It means loosely go to your devil's shell, ie your mother is a devil, in the same vein as referring to somebody as a Hijo de *insert epithet here*. Catchy tune. ;)