Thousands of people take to the streets of Asunción after the resignation of the Minister of Health. Demonstration ends with one dead and at least 20 wounded
A demonstration called by the opposition, which gathered around 10,000 people in a central square in Asunción to protest against the government of Mario Abdo Benítez, corruption and the lack of medicines and vaccines against covid-19, was severely repressed by the police on the night of this Friday. The incidents left one dead with a bladed weapon and at least 20 wounded, including civilians and police, according to the authorities' report. Earlier, the Minister of Health, Julio Mazzoleni, decided to resign due to the pressures he suffered under the management of health policy against the pandemic.
About two hours after the protest began, the protesters were dispersed by police riot police, who used tear gases and rubber bullets, resulting in a pitched battle in the heart of the Paraguayan capital. A group of approximately 10 hooded protesters threw stones at police officers in the vicinity of Congress - the same building that was partially set on fire in another protest on March 31, 2017 - and they responded. A woman with her baby was hit by tear gas when she tried to enter her home. The clashes ended with an unusual scene: the riot police raising white flags, in a request for a truce, after running out of ammunition.
Archbishop of Asunción, Edmundo Valenzuela, asked both sides to avoid further clashes. "[I make] an appeal to the entire population that is currently convulsed by violence, an appeal to the media to call for peace," said the prelate to the Telefuturo channel. Interior Minister Arnaldo Giuzzio told the press that the riot squad's actions were justified. "The police reacted and tried to prevent [the protest] spreading, that by now it is already contained in some places," he said.