Paraguayans returned to the streets on Wednesday (17) to follow the debate in the country’s Chamber of Deputies over the impeachment request of the president, Mario Abdo Benítez, and his deputy, Hugo Velázquez – the process, as expected, has finally been rejected. .
Both have been accused of corruption and mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, which totals 186,000 cases and 3,588 deaths from the coronavirus.
After filing the demand by 36 votes in favor, 42 against and 2 absences (53 votes were needed for approval), protesters and police clash in the area of the National Congress. Fireworks were launched against the officers, who responded with rubber bullets, according to ABC Color newspaper.
The riot lasted a few minutes, when security forces managed to drive away the demonstrators, who continued to set off fireworks, according to Paraguayan media reports.
La Nación newspaper reported that Congressional Homeland Security also acted to expel a group of protesters who were carrying items to be used in protests, while other soldiers were injured.
Another group has moved to the outskirts of the Colorado party headquarters, of which Abdo Benítez is a member. The building was the target of demonstrators, who started a fire, already controlled, according to the two Paraguayan newspapers.
Discussion of the president’s and his deputy’s request for dismissal began earlier this Wednesday, after MP Basilio Núñez, Honor Colorado bench chief of the Abdo Benítez support base, called for a special session to debate charges as soon as possible. .and classify them, analysts say. The request to open the process was made by the opposition, a minority in the House.
Opposition MPs Celeste Amarilla from the Genuine Radical Liberal Party and Kattya González from the National Meeting Party were tasked with reading the complaints. The exhibition was carried out under a certain improvisation due to the session which took place outside the plan.
They tried again, without success, to maneuver, because they knew it was difficult to convince the majority to move the process forward. Thus, they asked that the request be first transmitted to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs for evaluation, possibly enlarged and approved, and then submitted to the plenary.
Both requests focused on the demands of the streets. The dissatisfaction is linked to the lack of basic supplies in hospitals and health centers, such as pain relievers. The opposition is questioning the government for asking for an international loan of US $ 1.6 million to buy inputs that, so far, have not arrived.
A national vaccination plan has also not been presented – only 4,000 doses of Russian vaccine Sputnik V and 20,000 doses of Chinese Coronavac sold by the Chilean government have reached Paraguay. Little for the 7 million inhabitants of the country. Vaccination has not yet reached 0.1% of the population.
Another basis for the withdrawal request would be the incorrect payment of US $ 6.8 million, 15% of the total US $ 45.6 million, for the purchase of vaccines by Covax. According to the prosecution, the amount was transferred twice to the wrong account. The Ministry of Public Health and Social Protection denied that the mistake was made, according to the newspaper La Nación.