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Saturday, April 1, 2017
Authoritarianism Takes Double-Punch in South America Set-back
Paraguay congress building set ablaze after contentious voteBy Daniel Uria
Protesters in Paraguay set fire to part of a congressional building after 25 senators voted to amend the constitution to allow President Horacio Cartes to seek re-election after his single five-year term. Photo by Andres Cristaldo/EPA
UPI/Reuters -- A congressional building in Paraguay was set ablaze during a protest after a secret senate vote to allow President Horacio Cartes to seek re-election.
Flames covered part of the congressional building as protesters vandalized offices and targeted police vehicles in the capital city of Asuncion on Friday night.
"I didn't expect to witness something like this," speaker of the lower house, Hugo Velázquez, said. "I am calling for harmony."
Firefighters arrived at the scene to extinguish the flames and riot police fired rubber bullets at the crowd. Some protesters were injured.
Paraguay signed a new constitution in 1992 which placed a system of checks and balances on the executive office and limited the president to a single five-year term, following the 35-year brutal dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner.
"A coup has been carried out. We will resist and we invite the people to resist with us," said Senator Desiree Masi from the opposition Progressive Democratic Party.
The protests erupted after a group of 25 senators began holding "parallel sessions" to amend the constitution to allow Cartes to seek re-election following the end of his five-year term.
The unrest coincides with a rare high-level international event in the landlocked South American country. Thousands of businessmen and government officials descended on Asuncion this week for the Inter-American Development Bank's annual board of governors meeting.
While Paraguay long suffered from political uncertainty, the soy and beef-exporting nation has been attracting investment in agriculture and manufacturing sectors in recent years as Cartes offered tax breaks to foreign investors.
A senate meeting scheduled to be held on Saturday was canceled following the protests and the damage to the congressional building.
Venezuela reverses decision to remove
National Assembly's power
By Daniel Uria
Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice announced it had reversed its decision to strip legislative power from the country's National Assembly on Saturday. EPA/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ
UPI -- Venezuela's Supreme Court announced it will return legislative power to the National Assembly on Saturday.
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice said it had removed certain parts of a judgment that took over the National Assembly's legislative power after government leaders urged it to review the decision and citizens staged daily protests.
The court issued a 20,000-word ruling on Wednesday stating the TSJ or an agency it chose would assume the National Assembly's duties.
On Friday, Venezuela's chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, expressed "great concern" about the measure, which she said violated the constitution.
Vice-President Tareck El Aissami also pleaded with the Supreme Court to examine the decision which was viewed by some as a "coup."
"We urge the supreme court to review the decisions... in order to maintain institutional stability and the balance of powers," El Aissami said.
President Nicolas Maduro promised dialogue to end the issue and appeared on national television Saturday to announce an agreement had been reached.
"We've reached an important agreement to solve this controversy," he said.
In other words he received enough credible threats as to be scared for his life! Maduro has to go and go quickly or Venezuela might never recover from the damage he is doing.