On Friday, March 5, thousands of people took to the streets of Asuncion demanding the resignation of Mario Abdo. From that day on, the demonstrations have not stopped. We interviewed our comrades Nico G. and Juampi B. from Alternativa Socialista, Paraguayan section of the ISL, to explore in depth the process that they are going through.
Why did the “Paraguayan March” explode?
Juampi: There are basically two events that happened in March that have marked the country in recent decades: In 1999 when eight young people lost their lives in the midst of protests and in 2017, when thousands rejected the re-election of Horacio Cartes and Congress was set on fire. The new Paraguayan March exploded against Mario Abdo, who has to confront a population fed up with their leadership and the Colorado Party. The pandemic accelerated the capitalist crisis in the world, the contradictions of the system worsened and this was reflected in Paraguay with an increase in unemployment, the attempt to strengthen the repression and the taking of millions in a loan that was distributed between ministers and ghost companies. All while hundreds of workers die due to an emptied and collapsed healthcare system. Popular outrage grew until the people reached the limit due to the lack of medicines against the coronavirus, which forced thousands of families into debt or directly die due to their absence. In addition, the amount of vaccines that have arrived is pitiful, we are facing an inept government that went out to beg for vaccines in its speeches, but really did nothing to get them.
Is it fundamentally spontaneous, self-convened?
Nico: What we are beginning to see in Paraguay is the perfect description of a spontaneous self-convened action of the masses who are tired of waiting for the false solutions of the State, that’s why we go out to the streets shouting “Throw them all out!”. Because we will no longer remain silent, the people are tired of mistreatment and privilege for a few and do not settle for crumbs. Mario Abdo has mocked the people on countless occasions, a few weeks ago in a video that went viral you can see the relative of a coronavirus patient begging the president for medicine and he replied “I’m not a doctor, I don’t know what supplies are needed here.”, when he had said before that Paraguay had the best healthcare system in the world.
We still have to study and see the evolution of the process while we intervene, but at first sight, it is a revolution against the Colorado Party, who have ruled for 70 years, between dictatorship and “democracy.” The mobilizations are self-convened, there is no leadership to hegemonize the discontent, for now it has not been channeled through any candidate, even when we are in an electoral year. Opposition leaders are absent, the workers’ federation have not called for a General Strike, the powerful peasant federations have not taken action, and the “Lugo-ist” and Liberal parliamentarians do not dare to encourage the struggle in the streets. Hundreds of workers and peasants from all over the country have arrived in Asunción by their own means, in spite of their leaderships, to show their discontent and those who have not arrived in Asunción go out to block avenues and routes in their cities and towns.
What slogans does the movement raise?
Juampi: Mainly “Marito Out”, “Throw them all out” and “ANR Never Again”, but the demand behind those slogans is a healthcare system with intensive care units, medicines and a vaccine against the coronavirus, free and quality public education, the end of economic misery since thousands were left without work due to the pandemic and the economic crisis, as well as a solution to femicides and sexist violence. Mainly thousands of young people between 17 and 25 years old are mobilized, they are the generation that took schools and universities between 2015 and 2017, this sector has a lot of sympathy from the labor movement, the peasantry and the middle class sectors.
How is the government of Mario Abdo and Cartes reacting?
Nico: Hours before the mobilization on Friday, due to fear of the outburst, the Minister of Health resigned, the next day Abdo asked all his ministers to dispose of their positions, as well as the resignation of the Minister of Education, the Minister of Women and the Civil Cabinet. The ones that were questioned the most. Vice ministers and other senior officials also resigned.
The government is weak, a sector of the Colorados have warned that they will call for mobilizations in support of the president, which remains to be seen. The president has the support of former president and drug trafficker Horacio Cartes, who is putting ministers where there were resignations and that generates greater anger among the youth and the workers.
What policy does the bourgeois opposition and Lugo of the Guasú Front propose?
Juampi: The bourgeois opposition is betting on the impeachment of Mario Abdo, they are looking for an institutional solution, with early elections, which we believe is a trap since they are not real solutions, they only intend to stop the rebellion because they know that tomorrow it will also do away with the Frente Guasu and the Liberal Party, who pose as progressives but do nothing to remove the government, in fact to move forward with the impeachment they need the parliamentary support of the most right-wing parties such as Patria Querida and the Horacio Cartes block.
What is the program of Alternativa Socialista in Paraguay?
Nico: We propose a revolutionary and socialist solution for the exploited majorities; the first task we have is to bring down the government of Abdo, the path is in the streets, we do not trust the State institutions that have supported and tolerated this fraud against the Paraguayan people for decades. We believe that we must call a general strike until we throw them all out, form an emergency government of the workers and popular sectors that applies a rescue plan in the face of the crisis and convene a free, sovereign and democratic Constituent Assembly to reorganize Paraguay on new bases, where there are no privileges, corruption or repression.
What prospects do you predict for this process?
Juampi: We believe that it is an open process, a revolution in progress, the people were strengthened the first day when they defeated the repression, from then on every day there are mobilizations and street confrontations, it is necessary for the workers and peasants movement to take action, they must go beyond their leadership and this is beginning to happen in the peasantry. There is ample space to build a socialist alternative that will be strengthened in these combats. It seems to us that the forecasts of the ISL were correct, we live in a world with a pre-revolutionary situation, so militant internationalism is key to build solidarity and strengthen each of the struggles in our countries to achieve the liberation of the working class in all the world.
Interviewed by MR