Democracy can only be protected and advanced when in full view of the people and its institutions

2 April 2017

The violent demonstrations that have occurred in recent days in Paraguay have generated serious concern in the region and the international community, and exposed a widely known truth, that democracy can only be protected and advanced when it is in full view of the people, in front of the nation and with full respect for its institutions.

The discussion and processing of the constitutional amendments aimed at changing the rule of non re-election of the Head of State, which was established in 1992 after the end of a long period of authoritarianism under General Stroessner, has, at the very least, and on a matter that is so close to the soul and historical memory of the citizens of that country, lacked the necessary transparency, a frank and open discussion with the public opinion and respect for the established parliamentary rules. This is why Paraguay, as well as the democratic international community, must lament today the serious, violent demonstrations that have caused the tragic death of the young PLRA leader, Rodrigo Quintana, the shocking and grave bullet attack on the Member of Parliament Edgar Acosta, and along with them, a large number of casualties due to the excessive use of force by the police, and numerous detainees in disturbances that involved many demonstrators in circumstances that can never be justified, but that originate in the civil unrest relating to the manner in which this process of constitutional reforms has been carried out.

The Socialist International, along with condemning these serious acts of violence and the excessive, and in this case criminal, use of police force, calls on the Paraguayan government authorities to act respecting and protecting the constitutional framework of democracy, to respect the rights and the life of the political opposition, to respect the current regulations of the rule of law and the norms that regulate the political and democratic life of the country, which today are the result of the efforts and sacrifices made by so many Paraguayans who struggled for generations for the rights and freedoms of all their fellow citizens. We further call on the government authorities to conduct the national debate and the functioning of the political institutions of the State and their officials with openness and transparency and to live up to the historical responsibility that lies with those who today have in their hands the destiny of that nation which should never again go back to the past.