Paraguay: Marches call for Lugo to act

Source: Green Left Weekly

The anniversary of the first year of President Fernando Lugo’s government coincided with a five-day national protest over August 10-15 organised by the United Popular Space (EUP). The EUP is a coalition of many social organisations and left parties, with the support of figures from diverse political sectors, including the governor of the department of San Pedro, Jose Pakova Ledesma, from the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA).

The election of Lugo, a former bishop who has campaigned for the rights of the poor, broke more than six decades of continuous right-wing rule in the South American nation.

Marches and peaceful demonstrations were held across the country during the week. The EUP is demanding that Lugo comply with his electoral commitments, especially in regards to agrarian reform.

It is also demanding that he harshly attack the right-wing bloc that has a majority in both houses of Congress. These forces place a brake on social projects and seek to legitimise repression against popular demands through new laws.

The response to these mobilisations by the mass media has been scandalous. It distorted and attacked the leaders of the EUP, linking them to all types of crimes (closeness to kidnappers, to drug traffickers etc.).

Nevertheless, this aggressive attitude demonstrates the weakness of a backward dominant class that, after losing the political hegemony it held via the Colorado Party (PC), which was in power for 60 years uninterrupted.

Since the defeat of the PC, this dominant class does not have a political party it can use to truly represent its interests and maintain the structures that allowed it to accumulate wealth.

It is clear that the coup in Honduras has raised the possibility of the Paraguayan right deepening its daily, virulent attacks against the Lugo government.

Lugo’s electoral victory was facilitated by the crisis of the relations between the dominant party and dominant classes, as well as the (extremely) broad alliance he was able to achieve.

But Lugo “reached government, not power”, and now has to confront a range of organisations that —although with contradictions — see the reactionary right as their principal enemy while demanding that Lugo carry out his program to change social policy and transform judicial power.

These organisations also demand Congress approve laws that favour the people. They are demanding that a stop be put to the poisoning of the population through the indiscriminate use of toxic agricultural chemicals.

Lugo has, until now, had a populist discourse. But he has still not carried out the reforms the country needs to emerge from backwardness and achieve development and sovereignty.

The EUP aims to build a popular bloc through mobilisation and organisation to advance the struggle. But this task is not easy. The actions were a first step in a process of accumulation of political forces, with all the limitations differences that exist.

In Paraguay, the great battles in the democratic camp are only beginning and the key force is the people.

[Adolfo Gimenez is a journalist and a member of the Popular Socialist Convergence Party (PCPS). The article was translated by Federico Fuentes and is abridged from Links, international journal of socialist renewal.]