Friday, June 14, 2024

LATIN AMERICA | 07-03-2021 08:36

Paraguay reshuffles cabinet after violent Covid-19 anti-government protests

Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benítez announces cabinet reshuffle after violent street protests over the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benítez announced a cabinet reshuffle Saturday after violent street protests over the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He announced new people would be appointed to the ministries of health, education, women's issues, and civil affairs. 

"I am sure that the men and women named will do their utmost to confront this moment of crisis that the country is enduring," the president said.

Thousands of protestors clashed with police late Friday, ransacking shops and setting cars on fire. A total of 21 people were injured, hospital officials said.

Paraguayans are angry over a shortage of personal protective gear and other equipment to confront the health crisis and a collapse in the healthcare system. The health minister already resigned Friday.

On Saturday, another 5,000 people came out to protest but this time the rally was peaceful, and they called for the president's resignation.

The coronavirus epidemic is expanding in Paraguay and officials admit the threat is grave.

"We are in a critical situation," said Health Ministry spokesman Hernán Martínez.

"Let's avoid crowds. It is the only thing that can save us from the collapse of healthcare."

As of Friday, Paraguay had reported 165,811 coronavirus cases and 3,278 deaths. 

It is awaiting the arrival of four million vaccine doses from the Convax system of the World Health Organisation and a million doses of the Russian Sputnik 5, for a population of just over seven million.

So far, Paraguay has received just 4,000 doses of vaccines from Russia, intended for intensive care personnel. 


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