Paraguay pandemic response sparks violent protests


Protesters clashed with police in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion on Friday evening, over the government’s handling of the global health crisis.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas on hundreds of protesters around the Congress building, as demonstrators broke down barriers, burned roadblocks and threw stones at them, turning the capital's historic center into a make-shift battlefield of fire and smoke.

The riots come as the South American nation hit record numbers of COVID-19 infections daily, hospitals are on the brink of collapse, and the rollout of vaccinations has been slow.

Earlier on Friday, health minister Julio Mazzoleni resigned after lawmakers forced his ouster, in order to, quote, “generate that peace that we need to face this challenge.”

His successor, Julio Borba, said he would immediately begin tracking down medicine and supplies.

115 out of every 100,000 people in Paraguay have been reported infected in the past seven days alone, according to a Reuters tally, and only less than 0.1 percent of the population has been vaccinated.