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Country profile for Paraguay

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

Risk Rating

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Red (High Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are dangerous.

Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

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Amber (Moderate Risk) InTouch advice:

Some parts of the country are dangerous.

Travel with caution.

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Green (Low Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are safe.

Travel freely.

General Information

  • Capital: Asuncion
  • Major Languages: Spanish, Guarani
  • Currency: Guarani
  • Timezone: GMT -4:00

Country Map

Map of Paraguay

Paraguay is still recovering from a deep political and economic crisis generated when President Fernando Lugo was impeached in 2012. Lugo was removed for poorly handling a land dispute protest, during which 17 people were killed. Lugo’s impeachment was highly condemned by the international community and Paraguay’s regional partners. It eventually led to the country’s suspension from the regional-bloc Mercosur – Paraguay was readmitted in 2014. In 2013, Horacio Cartes was elected president, restoring the hegemony of the Colorado Party, which had ruled Paraguay for 60 years before Lugo’s historic victory in 2008. President Cartes’s policies were the target of a wave of nationwide protests, involving teachers, students, Campesinos, indigenous communities, taxi drivers and civil servants. In April 2017, dozens of people were injured when constitutional reforms protests escalated and the parliament building was set on fire. Changes to the constitution included plans to scrap presidential term limits – in Paraguay, presidents may only serve a single term. Increasing tensions forced President Cartes to abandon his re-election aspirations. He resigned from office just before the end of his term to launch a failed attempt to run for senator. Cartes's successor, Colorado Party’s Mario Abdo Benitez, was elected in April 2018. Since taking office President Benitez has been facing increasing challenges from both the opposition and the fragmented Colorado Party. In August 2019, he survived a parliamentary vote after both factions of the ruling Colorado Party rejected a motion from the Liberal opposition. After weeks of political turmoil in the lower house of parliament, members of the Colorado Party voted against the opening of investigations against the president. The opposition has accused President Benitez and his VP of secretly attempting to reach an energy deal with Brazilian officials on rights over the Itaipu bi-national dam.

Crime levels in Paraguay are relatively high. According to official data, criminality in the country has suffered consistent increases throughout the last decade. Car-jackings and thefts are common and, due to the wide availability and loose restriction on firearms, armed robberies are frequent. Violent crime is mostly recorded in the bordering departments of Amambay and Alto Parana. Crime tends to be higher along the border with Brazil, especially in the towns of Pedro Juan Caballero, Capitan Bado, Ciudad del Este and Salto del Guaira. Most incidents are related to ongoing disputes of key international drug-trafficking and smuggling routes involving the Brazilian-based Red Commando (CV) and First Capital Commando (PCC). In recent months, President Benitez has ordered a number of extradition requests for Brazilian criminals after several high-level offenders were arrested in Paraguay. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped from several areas across the country's eastern departments. Violent attacks may also affect the capital, Asuncion. In September 2019, a police officer was killed during a prisoner transfer. The incident happened when the vehicle transporting a CV regional leader was ambushed on the Cordillera Norte highway. President Benitez said that he had accepted the resignation of Justice Minister Julio Jaime Rios and that a police chief has been suspended. Despite intense pressure, Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor remained on his post.

In the capital, Asuncion, precautions should be taken especially at night. Foreign nationals have been previously targeted near the presidential palace and Congress, while criminality levels tend to be higher in some neighbourhoods located in central Asuncion, Villa Morra, Banados Sur, Kambala, Roberto Pettit, Santa Ana and Barrio Obrero. Caution is highly advised on travels to Asuncion's metropolitan area, including Nemby, Capiata, Lambare and San Lorenzo. Although violent crime rarely affects visitors and most cases are linked to low-scale drug-trafficking, caution is advised when withdrawing cash from ATMs or brandishing valuables. Foreign travellers are most likely to be targeted by petty crime, such as bag snatching and pick-pocketing.

Terrorism in Paraguay in moderate. Guerrilla groups, such as the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), widely operate in rural areas, especially in the northern departments of Concepcion and San Pedro. The notorious police-military Joint Task Force (FTC) was launched in 2013 and has been engaged in intermittent operations against the group. The EPP has particularly launched small-scale attacks against security forces, while also kidnapping prominent ranchers and farmers. The group is considered small and currently poses a limited threat to overall security in Paraguay. However, Paraguayan authorities have warned that they are becoming increasingly active. Besides the EPP, a splinter faction of the group known as the Armed Campesino Association (ACA) also operates in northern Paraguay. The group is believed to be engaged in drug-trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. Previous reports suggest that the ACA has adopted similar operations as the demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Reports also suggest that members of the Lebanese-based Hezbollah operate in the tri-border area. They are thought to be mainly engaged in money-laundering due to the country’s lax financial control and mostly cash-based transaction system in duty-free border areas.

Paraguay’s rainy season usually runs during the summer months, between October and April. Intense rainfall often affects communities located along rivers. In April 2019, more than 60,000 families were affected when widespread flooding hit the capital, Asuncion, and most departments across the Gran Chaco region. A month later, the government issued a six-month state of emergency to restore flooded rural and secondary roads that isolated communities across northern Paraguay. Due to intense drought in some areas, northern Paraguay may also experience a highly active wildfire season.

Paraguay is among a number of countries worldwide which have been hit by the global outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The latest case figures can be viewed here.

News articles

By CPJ

Radio host gunned down in Paraguay

Authorities in Paraguay should carry out an efficient investigation into the murder of a radio host and lawyer on Thursday, establish a motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

By Pedro Servin, Associated Press

Paraguayan journalist shot to death

A Paraguayan journalist was shot to death in a crime-ridden northern city bordering Brazil, authorities said Friday.

View all articles for Paraguay

Alerts for Paraguay

Police arrest man for extorting family of kidnaped former VP

Police have arrested a suspect accused of extortion over the kidnapping of former Vice-President Oscar Denis. Denis was kidnapped back in September by members of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). According to the police, the suspect portrayed himself as an EPP member to extort Denis's family. He is the third person to be detained for targeting Denis's family. It is still unknown the former vice-president's whereabouts despite his family meeting the kidnappers' demands. The EPP is a militant group that mainly operates in northern Paraguay.

Police seize massive marijuana haul in Canindeyu

Police have seized more than 41 tonnes of marijuana in three operations in the department of Canindeyu, north-eastern Paraguay. The operations took place near the Brazilian border. According to the local authorities, the raids happened in rural areas in the town of Maracana. Organised criminal groups linked to drug-trafficking are often based on the Brazilian border, which is a major route of trafficking to Brazilian ports and other locations in North America.

Paraguay prepares for dengue fever season

Paraguay is currently preparing for the upcoming dengue fever season which usually takes place during the summer months. While Paraguay is also facing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the country also prepares for the increase in dengue fever cases. Government authorities expect that this dengue fever season will face a decrease in cases when compared with previous years due to the intensification of regional and national cooperation. Last year, Paraguay faced one of its highest rates of dengue fever infections, with 53 deaths and more than 27,000 cases.

Heavy rainfall triggers power cuts in Asuncion

A massive power outage has hit Asuncion after heavy rainfall battered the Paraguayan capital. EFE reported that 400,000 people were affected over the weekend, causing widespread damage in the city. Hundreds of trees were downed and hit power poles across Asuncion. Several small aircraft parked at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport (ASU) were also damaged. Intense downpour affects Paraguay as the country faces historical drought levels linked to the La Nina phenomenon.

Paraguay signs deal to build sub-station linked to Itaipu dam

Paraguay has signed a deal on building an electrical substation linked to the binational Itaipu dam in the Brazilian border. As part of the project, the substation will allow access to Paraguay's entire share of energy produced at Itaipu. Paraguay is entitled to half of all power produced at Itaipu but most of it is exported to Brazil. The project is expected to cost $65m and is set to be completed by 2022. The deal comes ahead of renegotiations of energy production shares between Brazil and Paraguay in 2023. The substation will connect Itaipu with a major power transmission line.

Bodies recovered inside fertiliser shipment in Asuncion

The remains of seven people have been found inside a shipment of fertiliser in Paraguay. AP reported that the victims' bodies were discovered inside a container that came from Serbia. Investigations are ongoing to assess if the victims entered the contained during transit through Spain and Egypt. Authorities believe that the victims were migrants - three of them were identified as coming from Morocco. The bodies were found at the Puerto de Villeta near Asuncion.

Police make massive cocaine seizure in Asuncion

Police have seized a large amount of cocaine in Asuncion. Reuters reported that the drugs were concealed in a coal shipment believed to be destined for Israel. Police said that 2.3 tonnes of drugs were seized in Terport de Villeta, located on the outskirts of the capital. This has been considered the largest cocaine seizure ever made in Paraguay. Paraguay is considered a major transit country for drugs heading from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru to Europe.

Prosecutors identify kidnappers of former VP

Prosecutors have identified six people who were involved in the kidnapping of former vice-president Oscar Denis. According to reports, three teenagers are among the suspects. Denis was kidnapped last month and taken to an area controlled by the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). Attorney General Federico Delfino said that the suspects were indigenous members of the EPP. A so-called 'indigenous brigade' of the EPP claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The latest reports indicate Denis is still missing.

Federico Gonzalez nominated as new foreign minister

President Mario Abdo Benitez has nominated a new foreign minister after Antonio Rivas left the post. Rivas took office last year and has been recently questioned for not introducing cuts on Paraguayan consulates and diplomatic representations amid the coronavirus crisis. Rivas will be replaced by Federico Gonzalez, who was serving as an aide at the National Defense Council. Gonzalez is the third foreign minister to take the post since President Benitez took office in 2018. The changes come just as Benigno Lopez stepped down as the country's finance minister

Paraguay to reopen for international flights

Paraguay will reopen its major airports from 21 October. The presidential aide for international affairs, Federico Gonzalez, said that all airlines will be allowed to resume their regular schedule to the Silvio Petrtirossi Airport in Asuncion. Passengers arriving in Paraguay by air will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. In the event that a PCR test is presented, the self-isolation period drops to seven days. Meanwhile, the main border crossing between Brazil and Paraguay will reopen next week. Coronavirus cases in Paraguay are nearing 50,000, with the death toll surpassing 1,000.

Finance Minister Benigno Lopez to step down

Finance Minister Benigno Lopez is expected to step down to pursue a senior position at the US-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Reuters reported that Lopez would be nominated to become the vice-president of the sectors and knowledge branch. Reports indicate that Lopez could be replaced by Ernst Bergen, the chairman of the Itaipu dam. The IDB is a major regional lender. It has been at the centre of political disputes over the nomination of its new president. Mauricio Claver-Carone became IDB's president in September after being nominated by the US.

State of emergency declared due to wildfires in Paraguay

A state of emergency has been declared in Paraguay as wildfires spread across the country. Paraguay was already under alert as scorching temperatures were affecting most departments, especially those located in the Chaco region. With the state of emergency, the government will allocate funds to high-risk areas while requesting international assistance to tackle the blazes. According to the National Emergency Secretary (SEN), more than 5,200 fires were reported in the country is less than 24 hours. The situation is expected to remain critical due to extremely dry weather and a lack of rainfall, which has also affected neighbouring Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil.

Increasing temperatures trigger alerts across Paraguay

Authorities have raised concerns over increasing temperatures across Paraguay which have led to dozens of wildfires. During a period of 24 hours, the environment ministry has identified more than seven thousands heat hotspots across the country, with most of them centred in the department of Presidente Hayes. The government says that most of them are caused due to illegal field burning. Wildfires in Paraguay often contribute to lowering air quality and extensive environmental damage.

Protesters call for release of former VP Denis

Hundreds of people have joined protests in Asunción to demand the release of former Vice-President Oscar Denis. Members of the Marxist Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) rebel group kidnapped Denis and one of his employees last week. The EPP demanded that the government release Carmen Villalba and Alcides Oviedo by 22:00 on Sunday in exchange for the hostages. The rebel group has failed to provide proof of life to Denis's family.

Former VP Oscar Denis kidnapped in Concepcion

Former Vice-President Oscar Denis has been kidnapped in a rural area of Concepcion, northern Paraguay. Authorities believe that Denis was kidnapped by members of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo claimed that the kidnapping had political motives. The incident comes days after two young girls died during a military operation targeting the EPP. Denis is a member of the Liberal Party and briefly served as Paraguay's VP back in 2012.

Alert issued due to surge in coronavirus infections amongst medical staff

An epidemiological alert has been issued in Paraguay after a rise in coronavirus infections amongst medical professionals. ABC Color reported that the move would allow the government to grant further support to health facilities. Most cases have been reported in the capital, Asuncion, and in the departments of Central and Alto Parana. Around 8,500 medical staff have already tested positive for coronavirus and more than 1,200 of them have died. Paraguay has recently reported a surge in coronavirus cases. Since early August cases have been on the rise, reaching 24,000.

Protesters target Paraguayan embassy in Argentina

Protesters have targeted the Paraguayan Embassy in Argentina as part of a demonstration to demand justice for the deaths of two young girls killed during a military operation. The foreign ministry said in a statement that protesters threw stones and paint at the building. It also called on the Argentinian authorities to protect the embassy's grounds. The young girls died when the military launched an operation against militants of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) in Concepcion. The UN has already ordered the government to launch a thorough investigation of the incident.

Coronavirus restrictions extended until late-September

Coronavirus restrictions in Paraguay have been extended until at least 20 September. As the number of cases surpasses 20,000, President Mario Abdo Benitez signed a decree to extend coronavirus measures nationwide - with the exception of Asuncion, Alto Parana and Central. Asuncion, Alto Parana, Central and some areas located along the Brazilian border are still in the third phase of reopening plans, while the rest of the country is on phase four. The extension a week after more than 800 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in a single day.

Young girls killed during military operation in Concepcion

Two girls have died during a military operation targeting the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) in Concepcion, north-eastern Paraguay. The operation happened last week in the rural town of Yby Yau, where at least two EPP militants were killed. President Mario Abdo Benitez praised the operation and lamented the girls' deaths. Preliminary reports suggest that the girls were relatives of EPP militants. President Benitez accused the group of forcing teenagers to join their ranks. The EPP is a guerilla group that operates in the departments of San Pedro and Concepcion. The group is engaged in kidnapping, especially targeting soldiers and ranchers.

Paraguay reports surge in coronavirus deaths during August

Paraguay has reported a surge in coronavirus deaths during August, with more than 270 new fatalities confirmed. Data from the health ministry shows that during the month of July, 32 deaths were reported in the country. Major concerns have been raised over the rising infection rates in the bordering department of Alto Parana. Community transmission is also being reported in Asuncion. Doctors' associations have warned over the potential collapse of the country's health system if the number of infections continues to increase. In total, more than 80 people are in intensive care.

Five new coronavirus deaths reported in Paraguay

The health ministry has confirmed that five new coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Paraguay in the last 24 hours. Official data also shows that some 300 new cases were confirmed during the same period, bringing the total to 6,700. The increase in deaths is the highest since the pandemic hit Paraguay. In total, 66 people have died after contracting the coronavirus. Paraguay has increased efforts to curb the virus in departments located along the Brazilian border. Currently, Paraguay has one of the lowest coronavirus rates in Latin America.

Dozens arrested as anti-quarantine protest turns violent in Ciudad del Este

Dozens of people were arrested after an anti-quarantine protest turned violent in Ciudad del Este, eastern Paraguay. Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said that several local shops were raided and looted when hundreds took to the streets after a quarantine was imposed in the city. Ciudad del Este is located just opposite the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu. It is the second-largest city in Paraguay. Recent data shows that the department of Alto Parana - where Ciudad del Este is located - reported a drastic increase in coronavirus cases recently.

Government to review coronavirus phase in Ciudad del Este

The government is reviewing the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions the city of Ciudad del Este due to an increase in cases. President Mario Abdo Benitez said that the health ministry is considering retracting the current reopening phase in Ciudad del Este - the second-largest city in Paraguay - after a surge in coronavirus cases were reported in recent days. Paraguay has reported far fewer cases when compared with neighbouring Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. So far, more than 4,500 cases were confirmed, including 45 deaths. Among the most affected departments include Alto Parana, Central and Asuncion.

Military clash with suspect smugglers in Ciudad del Este

Paraguay's military has clashed with suspected smugglers in the bordering town of Ciudad del Este. Dozens of people have been arrested when tensions escalated in the neighbourhood of San Miguel. Clashes broke out when a military patrol intercepted a boat which was departing for the Brazilian side of the border. According to the military, the smugglers opened fire at the soldiers. Ciudad del Este is located opposite the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu. A number of people in the region rely on cross border trade, which has been heavily affected by border closures. Paraguay has reported far fewer coronavirus cases and deaths when compared with neighbouring countries.

Congress passes legislation to scrap direct election of Parlasur members

Parliament has approved a bill that would scrap the direct election of representatives to the Mercorsur Parliament, the Parlasur. Paraguay was the only country amongst Parlasur's members to directly elect representatives. Members of the Mercosur trading bloc had previously agreed to scrap direct elections to the parliament. The bill, which had already passed in the Senate and the House of Deputies, means that Paraguayan representatives will now be chosen from a list of elected senators and members of parliament in 2023. Parlasur is based in Uruguay and decisions reached in this parliament are non-binding. Parlasur's members include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

EPP members found dead in Amambay

Paraguay's public ministry has confirmed that two presumed guerillas of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) have been found dead in the northern department of Amambay. Reports revealed that the bodies were found on an isolated road near Nandejara Puente at an advanced stage of decomposition. According to the Joint Task Force (FTC), the EPP members could have been killed after clashes with other drug-trafficking groups based in the department. The EPP is a leftist guerilla group that still operates in some Paraguayan departments, including Amambay and San Pedro. The group is mainly engaged in the kidnapping of prominent farmers and ranchers.

Government to reinforce health checks along the Brazilian border

Paraguay's government has said claimed that most imported cases of coronavirus already confirmed in the country have been reported amongst Paraguayans returning from Brazil. The government has launched a massive repatriation operation to return Paraguayan nationals from abroad. According to the Deputy Secretary of the National Defense Council Federico Gonzalez, a staggering 85 percent of around 2,800 returnees came from Brazil. President Mario Abdo Benitez has already announced that health control measures along the border will be reinforced. Paraguay has confirmed more than 430 coronavirus cases so far, including 10 deaths.

Government records increase in dengue fever cases in Asuncion

A significant increase in the number of dengue fever cases has been reported in Asuncion. Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni has said that the previous dengue fever outbreak in the country has come to an end, but a number of cases are still being reported in the neighbourhoods of Loma Pyta, Capiata and Roque Alonso. Dengue fever has killed 59 people in Paraguay during this season. Dengue fever symptoms may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a red rash.

Government to reintroduce restrictive coronavirus measures

President Mario Abdo Benitez has announced the reintroduction of restrictive measures to address the coronavirus threat in Paraguay. According to official reports, at least seven people have been killed in Paraguay, while 159 cases were reported. Some businesses are still allowed to operate, while vehicles, depending on the number of their license plate, will be allowed to operate.

President Abdo Benitez orders extension of nationwide quarantine

President Mario Abdo Benitez has announced the extension of the current nationwide lockdown in Paraguay. The current mandatory quarantine will expire on 12 April and will be extended until at least 27 April. Severe movement restrictions have been imposed across the country. At least five people have died and more than 100 coronavirus cases have been so far confirmed in Paraguay.

Government tightens movement restrictions to curb coronavirus spread

Enhanced movement restrictions were introduced across Paraguay as the government launches new measures to address the spread of the coronavirus. From Wednesday, the military and the police will monitor travels to and from the Central Department and Asuncion. All international borders in Paraguay have been ordered to close until further notice. Although all commercial flights are expected to be banned within the next few days, some repatriation flights may still be allowed to operate. Paraguay has confirmed 65 coronavirus cases. A curfew was initially launched two weeks ago and may be extended. People should stay indoors between 20:00 and 04:00 local time.

All commercial flights expected to be suspended

The government has announced that all commercial flights to and from Paraguay are expected to be suspended. The measure is expected to be implemented from 21 March, Saturday. People attempting to leave the country have been advised to do so by then. A nationwide state of emergency is still in place, while a curfew has also already been imposed between 20:00 and 04:00 local time. Flight restrictions are expected to be implemented until at least 30 March. Border crossings on the Puente de la Amistad, which links Ciudad del Este to Brazil's Foz do Iguazu, is also closed. According to the ministry of health, 13 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Paraguay.

Movement restrictions imposed amid new coronavirus measures

Movements restrictions will be imposed across Paraguay as the country attempts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo has dismissed that the new measures are considered a curfew. He said that although very similar, the new approach intends to limit the movement of people and vehicles for several hours a day. Movement restrictions will be mainly imposed between 20:00 and 04:00 local time across major cities nationwide. President Mario Abdo Benitez has already announced a nationwide quarantine and the ban on large social gatherings. In total, 27 border posts will be partially shut for 15 days, while foreign nationals are banned from entering the country. Paraguay has so far confirmed eight cases of the coronavirus.

President Abdo Benitez introduces nationwide quarantine

President Mario Abdo Benitez has introduced a nationwide quarantine after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Paraguay. Initially, people will be ordered to remain in lockdown for at least 15 days. Measures were announced by Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo earlier this month. He said that the military and police officers may be deployed to public areas to persuade people to remain isolated and avoid large gatherings. Social and religious events are also banned.

Public health ministry confirms first case of coronavirus in Paraguay

Paraguay's public health ministry has confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in the country. Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said that the patient is a 32-year-old who had arrived earlier this month from Ecuador. Mazzoleni told reporters that the patient is currently in isolation in the Central department. Authorities have confirmed that another case is under investigation and the symptoms of more than 70 people are being monitored.

Former parliament speaker jailed after exhausting all appeal options

Paraguay's former parliament speaker, Miguel Cuevas, has exhausted all of his appeal options. A judge has rejected a previous appeal to keep him out of jail, while another judge had refused to grant him a habeas corpus writ on Thursday. Cuevas is accused of links to illegitimate real estate dealings and for corruption when he was the governor of Paraguari. He is a member of the ruling Colorado Party and currently holds a seat in the Chamber of Deputies.

Paraguay records significant increase in dengue fever deaths amid outbreak

Health authorities in Paraguay have confirmed that the death toll of the current dengue fever outbreak has reached 16. According to reports, nearly 90 deaths are under investigation for links to dengue fever. This has been one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in Paraguay in the last decade. Data from the health ministry show that the cases have drastically increased since last week, reaching up to 85,000 so far this year. Paraguay's Senate has already voted in favour of declaring a state of emergency, while the ruling Colorado Party has been accused of downplaying the outbreak. Although the government claims that hospital and clinics are prepared, some reports suggest that health services in Paraguay are under extreme pressure.

Senate approves emergency declaration amid dengue fever outbreak

Paraguay's Senate has approved a nationwide state of emergency declaration amid the current dengue fever outbreak. At least six people have been killed and more than 3,500 cases were confirmed across the country. The measure was proposed by senators of the opposition Progressist Democratic Party (PDP) and the Beloved Fatherland Party (PPQ). It was voted in a special session after the government refused to declare a state of emergency. All parties voted in favour of the motion, while members of the ruling Colorado Party were the only ones to vote against it. Paraguay's health ministry claims that an emergency declaration is not necessary as health centres and hospital are already prepared to receive patients. Dengue fever is mosquito-borne disease extremely common in Latin American and the Caribbean. Symptoms may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a red rash.

Brazilian journalist gunned down in Pedro Juan Caballero

A Brazilian journalist has been gunned down after armed men raided his residence in Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. Leo Veras covered crime and drug-trafficking reports at an online news outlet based in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Paraguayan authorities confirmed that Veras was shot at least a dozen times while having a meal in his backyard. Prosecutors said that Veras had previously been targeed by death threats. Investigations have been launched to assess if his murder was related to his line of work. Pedro Juan Caballero is located just opposite the Brazilian city of Ponta Pora. Criminal groups engaged in drug-trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and arms smuggling widely operate along the border, which is seldom monitored.

Dengue fever death toll reaches six after two casualties in Asuncion

Paraguay's government has confirmed that two people have died after contracting dengue fever in the country. A regional health director in Asuncion confirmed that two people aged 80 and 39 died in the capital. Guillermo Sequera added that 50 other deaths are still under investigation. Paraguay has been facing an outbreak of dengue fever after more than 3,500 cases were confirmed. Most of them happened in Asuncion and the Central department. In total, six people have died. Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said that is still not necessary to introduce a state of emergency and that enhanced preventative measures have been already introduced in Paraguay. Dengue fever symptoms may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a red rash.

Interior minister refuses to declared emergency in Amambay

Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo has said that he is not declaring a state of emergency in the northern department of Amambay in the aftermath of a major prison break in the border with Brazil. Earlier this month, more than 70 inmates linked to the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC) fled a detention facility in the town of Pedro Juan Caballero. Acevedo claimed that in order to declare a state of emergency, social commotion is required. Dozens of prison guards were sacked for alleged involvement in the prison break. So far, only 11 inmates have been recaptured. Pedro Juan Caballero is located just opposite the Brazilian town of Ponta Pora. Criminal groups based in the region are often engaged in drug-trafficking, extortion and kidnapping.

Four dengue fever deaths confirmed in Paraguay

At least four people have been killed after contracting dengue fever in Paraguay. As the country faces a surge in the number of dengue fever cases, health authorities have said that a minor was infected with the disease in the northern town of San Estanislao and that a man got it in Asuncion's metropolitan area. Authorities are still investigating at least 23 deaths which may be linked to the mosquito-borne disease. In total, more than 2,200 cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in Paraguay since the start of the year. The current dengue fever outbreak in Paraguay reached international news headlines after President Mario Abdo Benitez himself contracted the disease. Dengue fever symptoms may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a red rash.

Border security beefed up after massive prison break in Pedro Juan Caballero

Security measures along the Brazilian border have been reinforced after a mass prison break in the eastern town of Pedro Juan Caballero. According to reports, most of those that escaped the prison were members of the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC). Reports indicate that at least 75 inmates fled the detention facility on Sunday. PCC members were segregated at a special wing of the prison. Authorities are currently investigating the potential involvement of prison guards in the incident. All prison officials have been either arrested or sacked. Pedro Juan Caballero is located just opposite the border of the Brazilian town of Ponta Pora. Border security in the region is rarely enforced. Although police checkpoints have been introduced, border crossings are still open. PCC and other criminal groups widely operate in the region. They are mainly involved in the trafficking of drugs and firearms.

Court summons former Asuncion mayor over corruption case

Former Asuncion Mayor Mario Ferreiro has been summoned to testify in court over his alleged involvement with corruption. The leftist politician resigned from his post back in December after police raids on mayoral offices in the capital. He was replaced by the head of the local council, Oscar Rodriguez, who is a member of the ruling Colorado Party. Several municipal workers have been implicated in the scandal, which mainly concerns influence peddling. The case emerged after Ferreiro's former ally, Camilo Soares, made a complaint to prosecutors over the existence of a corruption network in the mayor's office.

Adverse weather triggers power outage across Asuncion

Adverse weather has caused widespread power cuts across Asuncion. According to the National Electricity Administration (ANDE), nearly 50 power lines were shut down after heavy rainfall battered the capital on Monday. Traffic disruption has also been reported due to flooding. Adverse weather is forecast to continue to affect the region in the next few days. Additional to Asuncion, the departments of Guaira, Caaguazu, Misiones, Paraguari, Alto Parana, Neembucu, Canindeyu and Caazapa were also affected. Alerts were also issued to several areas in Amambay, Alto Paraguay, San Pedro and Concepcion.

Taxi driver killed during suspected robbery near Asuncion

A taxi driver has been killed during a suspected robbery attempt near Asuncion. ABC Color reported that the victim was targeted in the town of Luque just after transporting two passengers on Wednesday evening. Initial reports indicate that the victim was strangled while driving the vehicle. Investigations are still ongoing. The driver was stationed at a taxi stop on the main route between Luque and Aregua, located east of the capital.

US State Department bans two former Paraguayan officials from entering the country

The US Department of State has designated two former Paraguayan officials for involvement in corruption. In a statement, it said that the former president of the Paraguayan judicial disciplinary board and senator Oscar Gonzalez Daher and former Attorney General Javier Diaz Veron are barred from entering the US. Along with Daher and Veron, several of their immediate family members are also being slapped with the ban. Both Daher and Veron are accused of illicit enrichment. Daher was removed as a senator for the Colorado Party after another scandal of influence-peddling in a magistrate judicial body. The announcement comes just days before President Mario Abdo Benitez is set to meet his US counterpart, Donald Trump, in an official visit to Washington.

Brazilian authorities request detention of former President Cartes

Brazilian authorities are expected to request a Red Notice from INTERPOL for Paraguay's former President Horacio Cartes. As part of a police operation dubbed as the 'Operacion Patron', the former president is accused of receiving bribes from prominent money exchanger, Dario Messer. Cartes, who was a member of the Colorado Party of President Mario Abdo Benitez, is thought to have had a close relationship with Messer's family for many decades. Cartes left office in August 2018. He had previously attempted to change the constitution to allow his re-election and also attempted to be sworn in as a senator, but his bid was rejected in parliament. Messer was detained last year for operating a network that funnelled up to $1.6bn through 52 countries. As well as Cartes, several other politicians have also been implicated in the scandal. Among them is the current interior minister, Juan Villamayor.

Lawmakers approve 2020 budget after days of debate

Lawmakers have approved the 2020 budget after two days of intense debate. After some compromise was offered on the allocation of funds to education, the 13-billon-dollar budget was approved on Thursday. The new budget suffered a 7.6 percent increase compared with the previous one. Delays to its approval were also due to lack of quorum, which forced the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Pedro Alliana, to call for several sessions. The budget will now be taken to be discussed in the Senate before being signed by President Mario Abdo Benitez. The budget was approved days after the end of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visit to the country. In a press release, the IMF said that this year Paraguay faced severe challenges, exacerbated by a downturn in the agricultural sector due to nationwide floods. It added that in 2020 the country is forecast to bounce back economic growth. It said that "an important source of risk is developments in Paraguay’s main regional trading partners", especially Argentina and the ongoing China-US trade tensions.

Several injured after roadside bomb goes off in Horqueta, Concepcion

At least four people have been injured after a vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Concepcion, northern Paraguay. ABC Color reported that a vehicle was partially destroyed after hitting an explosive device in the Santa Silvia farm in Horqueta. The authorities are still investigating the suspected involvement of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) or other criminal groups which operate in the area. Ranchers and landowners in northern Paraguay are often the targets of kidnapping, extortion and attacks. Clashes between the security forces - mostly part of the police-military Joint Task Force (FTC) - and militant groups are also common in the region. In May, a militant linked to the Armed Campesino Association (ACA) was shot dead during violent clashes in Horqueta.

Several injured as LGBT march in Hernandarias turns violent

An LGBT march in the bordering town of Hernandarias turned violent after some protesters were attacked. Reports suggest that at least three protesters were severely injured when counter-demonstrators targeted them. The protest has not been authorised by the local conservative government. Amnesty International has condemned the episodes of violence, while the Colorado Party's Ruben Rojas said that the protesters provoked the attacks. Paraguay is considered one of the most homophobic countries in the Americas, while no legislation exists over discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Suspect in kidnapping former president's daughter in 2004 extradited from Brazil

A man accused of kidnapping and killing the daughter of former President Raul Cubas has been extradited from Brazil. Oscar Benitez is accused of abducting and murdering Cecilia Cubas back in 2004. Benitez and a close acquaintance, Lorenzo Gonzalez, were detained in Brazil in late-2017. Both are accused of links to the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP), an insurgency group created in 2008 that is still active in northern Paraguay. Cecilia was killed after being abducted from her house in San Lorenzo. Her body was found five months later in the town of Nemby. She was killed despite her family paying a ransom of $300k. Despite posing a limited threat, the EPP is still engaged in kidnapping. The group mainly target local ranchers and police officers.

Senate to summon interior minister for a second hearing on domestic security

Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor is set to appear again before the Senate after legislators approved a second hearing. All parties apart from the ruling Colorado faction linked to President Mario Abdo Benitez have voted in favour of the summons. Villamayor will be questioned over domestic security in Paraguay, which has been put under scrutiny after heavily armed criminals linked to the Brazilian-based Red Commando (CV) released a jailed leader being transferred from Asuncion. The escaped prisone, alias 'Samura,' was being escorted to prison when the police convoy was targeted in the outskirts of the capital. A police officer was killed during the attack, which also led to the resignation of the country's justice minister and the commander of the national police.

Villamayor to remain as Paraguay's interior minister despite calls for resignation

President Mario Abdo Benitez has announced that Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor will remain on his post. Villamayor's resignation was suggested after a serious security incident was reported in Asuncion last week, where a police officer was killed. The incident happened when a convoy transporting a regional leader of the Brazilian-based Red Commando was attacked in the capital. Villamayor keeps his post despite the dismissal of both the national police commander and justice minister. For many years, Paraguay has been haunted by the presence of Brazilian-based criminal groups often engaged in drug trafficking and arms smuggling. Incidents are sporadically reported across the country but usually occur in the tri-border area with Brazil and Argentina.

Lawmakers approve bill to compensate soldiers involved in 1989 revolution

Lawmakers in the lower house of Congress have approved a bill that would offer compensation to those involved in the overthrowing of late dictator Alfredo Stroessner. With 64 votes in favour, the 80-seat parliament approved the bill that would offer up to nearly $40k to former members of the armed forces and national police that took part in the military-led revolution in 1989. The bill, which has been previously opposed by President Mario Abdo Benitez, still needs to pass in the Senate and be signed by ministers before being ratified by the president. According to a truth commission, more than 20,000 people were forced to leave Paraguay during the 35-year-long dictatorship period. It is also estimated that 425 people were either killed or reported missing.

Health ministry announces measures to tackle future dengue fever outbreaks

Paraguay's health ministry has stepped up efforts to address a potential increase in the number of dengue fever cases in the country. Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni said that after analysing some assessments, the government has found necessary to prepare for potential outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease ahead of the summer months. So far this year, over 8,000 cases were confirmed in Paraguay. Most Latin American countries are already on alert after the Pan-American Health Organization (OPS) confirmed that more than two million cases of dengue fever were reported in 2019, mostly in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. Dengue fever is common in Latin America and the Caribbean. Symptoms may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache and a red rash. In more severe cases, symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, cold and drowsiness.

Police officer killed during prisoner transfer in Asuncion

A police officer has been killed during a prisoner transfer in Asuncion. ABC Color reported that the incident happened on Wednesday afternoon when the vehicle transporting Jorge Samudio, alias 'Samura', was ambushed on the Cordillera Norte highway. President Mario Abdo Benitez said that he had accepted the resignation of Justice Minister Julio Jaime Rios and that a police chief has been suspended. Samura is a faction leader of the Brazilian-based Red Commando (CV). He was arrested back in 2018 after spending more than seven years on the run. The CV and the First Capital Commando (PCC) are two Brazilian criminal groups that widely operate in Paraguay, especially along the Brazilian border. Both groups have been responsible for a number of incidents in recent months, which included a violent prison riot which killed nine people at a detention facility in the central department of San Pedro.

Major wildfire reignites amid wildfire season in northern Paraguay

A major wildfire has reignited in the northern Chovoreca National Park, located near the border with Bolivia. Reports indicate that more than 70,000 hectares of land have already been consumed in the Chaco region since August. A state of emergency has already been declared in the provinces of Alto Paraguay and Boqueron. This is the third wave of wildfires to hit Paraguay this year. Last month, more than 30,000 hectares of forest were destroyed in the environmentally-rich Pantanal region. Paraguay and neighbouring countries are facing an active wildfire season. Since August, more than two million hectares of forest and grassland have already burned in Bolivia, while in Brazil, over 30,000 fires burned in the Amazon rain forest during the same month.

Authorities probe human remains found on property previously owned by former dictator

Authorities are investigating the discovery of human remains on land previously owned by long-time dictator Alfredo Stroessner. The Guardian reported that a group of squatters have found the victims buried in a plot in the bordering town of Ciudad del Este. It is estimated that over 420 people died during the 35-year-old dictatorial period in Paraguay, which started in 1954. A small number of bodies have been recovered and even fewer were identified. 

Lebanese-based Hezbollah added to Paraguay's terrorist list

President Mario Abdo Benitez has signed a decree that designates the Lebanese-based group Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. In a statement from the interior ministry, it also confirmed that the al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and Hamas were also included to the list. The government claimed that the measure comes in order to enhance efforts to fight violent extremism. The US State Department has praised the move. Last month, Argentina has added Hezbollah to its terrorist organisations' list.  Hezbollah is believed to operate money-laundering operations in the tri-border area with Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Paraguay has previously been criticised for failing to tackle money laundering by criminal groups and international militant organisations.

President Abdo Benitez survives parliament vote on secret dam deal

President Mario Abdo Benitez has survived a parliamentary vote after both factions of the ruling Colorado Party rejected a motion from the Liberal opposition. After weeks of political turmoil in the lower house of parliament, members of the Colorado Party voted against the opening of investigations against the president. The opposition has accused President Abdo Benitez and his VP of secretly attempting to reach an energy deal with Brazilian officials on rights over the Itaipu bi-national dam. The scandal caused the resignation of several ministers. The alleged deal that was withdrawn was made public after Paraguayan media published messages exchanged between President Benitez and the former head of Brazil's National Electricity Administration.

Massive wildfire breaks out near Bahia Negra, Alto Paraguay

More than 21,000 hectares of land have been consumed after a major wildfire broke out in the Pantanal region in south-eastern Paraguay. According to authorities, the fire broke out on Saturday near the city of Bahia Negra in the northern region of Alto Paraguay. Local media reported that the wildfire affected parts of the Paraguayan Pantanal Reserve, the Los Tres Gigantes Bio Reserve and the Rio Negro National Park. Reports suggest that the fire also spread across the border into Bolivia's Otuquis National Park. The fire happened several kilometres away from the urban area of Bahia Negra. The Pantanal is an environmentally-rich region located along the Paraguay River. It spans 340,000 sq metres through Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia.

Thousands protest to demand the resignation of President Abdo Benitez

Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Asuncion to demand the opening of investigations against President Mario Abdo Benitez. Demonstrators and major opposition parties took to the streets of the capital to pressure parliament to investigate an energy deal brokered between Paraguay and Brazil. With the investigations, President Benitez and his VP, Hugo Velazquez, could be removed from office. The pressure is mainly being led by the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) and the Guazu Front. However, President Benitez still has the support of the Honor Colorado, a different faction of the ruling party. President Benitez is accused of covering up details of a previous deal involving the Itaipu hydroelectric dam that would be prejudicial to the country.

Colorado lawmakers prevent impeachment procedure against President Abdo Benitez

Lawmakers of the ruling Colorado Party have prevented the opening of impeachment procedures against President Mario Abdo Benitez after they refused to attend a parliamentary session. Due to the absence of a quorum in the Paraguayan lower house of Congress, Parliament Speaker Pedro Alliana was forced to suspend the session. Members of the Liberal opposition accuse President Abdo Benitez and his vice-president, Hugo Velazquez, of attempting to secretly reach an energetic deal with Brazil towards the Itaipu hydro-electric dam. The alleged deal - already withdrawn - was made public after Paraguayan media published messages exchanged between President Abdo Benitez and the former head of Brazil's National Electricity Administration.

Customs officer shot dead in Pedro Juan Caballero

A customs officer has been shot dead after a gunman targeted his home in Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. ABC Color reported that the victim was sitting in his front garden when a gunman riding a motorcycle opened fire on him. The authorities are still investigating the incident. Criminality levels in Pedro Juan Caballero are relatively high due to violent territorial disputes involving rival gangs engaged in drug-trafficking, smuggling and kidnapping. According to the police, more than 70 people have been killed along the Brazilian border so far this year. The city is located just across the border from the Brazilian town of Ponta Pora.

Police detain leaders of dismantled arms-trafficking network

Suspected leaders of an arms-trafficking network have been detained as part of a major operation in Asuncion. Eduardo Ramirez and Carlos Leon were detained on Wednesday as part of the Operation Palak, which dismantled a massive arms-trafficking ring based in Argentina. Ramirez, alias 'Matungo', is the suspected leader of the group that shipped weapons from the US and Europe to Argentina. Most weapons are believed to have been transferred to the bordering areas between Brazil and Paraguay to be sold to criminal groups, including the Red Commando and the First Capital Commando. Three suspects were also detained in the US. In June, hundreds of high-calibre rifles and explosives were seized in a series of police raids across Argentina. 

Taxi drivers to stage nationwide strike against ride-hailing services

Hundreds of taxi drivers are set to launch a fresh demonstration across Paraguay to protest against the operation of ride-hailing services. Members of the National Taxi Drivers Federation said that from 04:00 local time on Tuesday a nationwide strike will be launched. Protests are expected to take place in Asuncion and other major cities. Tensions between taxi drivers and the government have intensified since Uber started to operate in Paraguay last December. 

Taxi drivers stage protest in Asuncion against ride-hailing services

Hundreds of taxi drivers staged a protest in Asuncion against operations of ride-hailing services. Major associations took part in the demonstration that blocked major roads across the capital on Tuesday. Uber started to operate in Paraguay last December. It joined a local-based ride-sharing company named MUV, which already operates since 2017. Asuncion's Professional Taxi Drivers Association (ATPA) claimed that both companies operate illegally. 

One killed in violent bank robbery in Liberacion, San Pedro

An 18-year-old has been killed during a violent bank robbery in San Pedro, northern Paraguay. ABC Color reported that more than 30 heavily armed criminals targeted a bank in the town of Liberacion. The attack happened in the early hours of Sunday morning at a Vision Bank branch. At least three explosions were reported and several vehicles set ablaze. Local media reported that the town's police station was also targeted. Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor said that the incident was similar to a previous raid in the bordering town of Ciudad del Este, where dozens of armed criminals targeted a building belonging to a cash-in-transit company. The incident happened in 2017 and was linked to the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC).

President Abdo Benitez vetoes law aimed at toughing the removal of lawmakers

President Mario Abdo Benitez has vetoed a bill aimed at toughening up procedures to remove lawmakers from their posts. In a bill known as 'autoblindaje', or self-protection, lawmakers would be removed from their posts after a vote garnered an absolute majority in parliament - currently, according to the constitution, lawmakers may lose their seats in a simple-majority vote in parliament. The bill was introduced back in 2018 when a number of lawmakers were forced to quit after a massive scandal engulfed Paraguayan politics. The controversial bill now heads back to Congress for potential amendments.

Lower house approves introduction of state of emergency over prison system

Paraguay's lower house of Congress has approved a bill to introduce a state of emergency over the country's prison system. In a vote held on Tuesday, lawmakers have approved the measure, which is expected to last for a year - it still has to pass through a vote in the Senate. The state of emergency comes in response to a deadly prison riot in San Pedro de Ycuamandyuu, where 10 inmates were killed. Reports show that the riot broke out between members of the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC) and a local criminal syndicate. Since taking office, President Mario Abdo Benitez has expedited extradition linked to prison-based criminal gangs, such as the PCC and the Red Commando, back to Brazil. With the state of emergency, the military and police will be deployed around prisons, while the justice ministry will be given special powers to hire additional staff.

Several inmates killed in violent prison riot in San Pedro

At least nine inmates have been killed during a violent prison riot in San Pedro, central Paraguay. According to the police, clashes broke out over the weekend between rival criminal factions in the prison of San Pedro de Ycuamandiyu. More than a dozen inmates were also injured. Preliminary reports suggest the involvement of the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC) against drug-traffickers of the Clan Rotela. In March, the government has ordered the deployment of the military to assist prison officers after threats of prison riots across Paraguay. The move came over reports of a coordinated effort from the PCC to launch violent riots in Paraguayan prisons.

Lawmakers vote to renew congressional leadership

Colorado Party's Pedro Alliana has been elected the new speaker of the lower house of Congress. Aliana is a member of the same party of President Mario Abdo Benitez but from a different internal political faction. Alliana is a close ally to former President Horacio Cartes. His nomination was overwhelmingly backed in the house. Alliana replaces Miguel Cuevas, who is currently being investigated for corruption. Meanwhile, the Senate elected Blas Llano, of the opposition Liberal Party, as the new speaker. Last year, ahead of the presidential elections, Senate Speaker Fernando Lugo refused to accept President Cartes resignation, preventing him from being sworn into Senate due to constitutional grounds - while being president, Cartes was elected to a Senate seat.

Extensive flooding affects multiple parts of the country

Significant flooding affected multiple parts of Paraguay on Monday, including the capital, Asuncion. Around 70,000 people have been displaced, the majority of them in the capital and in the southern town of Pilar. The Paraguay River's levels are currently only 46 cm below the considered "disaster level" at which point Rosario, Pilar, Fuerte Olimpo and Alberdi would be at serious risk.  The armed forces have been deployed to assist affected communities, although some families have elected to remain in their homes. Further flooding and evacuations are possible as further rain is forecast until Wednesday.

State of emergency declared to restore flooded roads across Paraguay

A six-month state of emergency has been declared to allocate funds to roadworks in Paraguay. Public Works and Communications Minister Arnoldo Wiens said that funds will be used to rebuild roads and highways that were destroyed by flooding. The country's road network currently has more than 13,000 kilometres. Most areas affected are in northern Paraguay, especially in the Chaco region. Some communities are still isolated as impassable rural roads are compromising the delivery of aid. Recent reports show that more than 60,000 families were affected as adverse weather continue to hit the country since mid-April.

Adverse weather still affects flooded regions across northern Paraguay

Adverse weather conditions continue to affect northern Paraguay as several departments are experiencing widespread flooding. Since early-April, the region has been battered by heavy rainfall, which so far, according to the UNICEF, led to the death of 16 people. One of the most affected departments is Neembuco, where a state of emergency was declared last week. Other areas of concern are Presidente Hayes, Alto Paraguay, Capital, Misiones, Central, San Pedro and Concepcion. It is estimated that nearly 20,000 families were already evacuated from flooding-prone areas near local rivers. Paraguay's National Emergency Secretary (SEN) has been working to deliver aid to the affected areas, especially to those located remote rural areas that are still under water.

ACA militant killed in police shooting near Horqueta, Concepcion

A militant member of the Armed Campesino Association (ACA) has been shot dead during a violent confrontation in Concepcion, northern Paraguay. ABC Color reported that the ACA militant was killed in a police shooting in a rural area near Horqueta. According to the police, the militant was identified as Leticia Jara Larrea, the sister of ACA founders, Alfredo and Albino, both killed in 2015. The ACA is a splinter faction of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). It mainly operates across the departments of Concepcion and San Pedro. The group is believed to be engaged in drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. Previous reports suggest that the ACA has adopted similar operations as Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)

Health ministry confirms three new dengue fever deaths in Paraguay

Paraguay's health ministry has confirmed that three people have recently died after contracting dengue fever. Health authorities confirmed that with the new cases, this year's death toll reached six. Deaths were confirmed in Alto Parana, Amambay, Caaguazu and Central. Most confirmed cases of dengue were reported in Amambayu and Alto Parana. Dengue cases are reportedly on the rise due to high temperatures and incessant rainfall. The incidence of the disease may increase over the next few weeks. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease which symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting and joint pain. Visitors are advised to take the necessary precautions to avoid being bitten. Currently, there is no vaccination available against dengue fever.

State of emergency declared over flooding in Neembucu

A state of emergency has been declared in the Neembucú province, 300km south of Asuncion, as torrential rain continues to swell rivers and cause flooding. Governor Luis Benitez said that the situation is critical to at least six towns across the province. Across Paraguay, around 40,000 residents have been forced to evacuate their homes and head for higher ground, nearly one-fourth of them are residents in Asuncion. Further evacuations have taken place along the Paraguay River which originates in Brazil.

Interior minister criticises parliament bill to disband military task force

Paraguay's Interior Minister Juan Villamayor has criticised a parliament bill seeking to disband the police-military Joint Task Force (FTC). Villamayor told EFE that the government is still working to enhance the capabilities and efficiency of the FTC, while accusing lawmakers of undermining such efforts. The task force is mainly focused on the combat against the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP), which widely operate in northern Paraguay. The group has been responsible for several kidnappings in the region, especially targeting ranchers, farmers and security forces. Several hostages are still being held by the group, including police officer Edelio Moringo and Felix Urbieta, a rancher. The FTC has also been involved in a series of controversies. Opposition lawmakers accused it of failing to address kidnaps in the region, while some officials within the task force are accused of corruption.

Hundreds gather outside National Congress while senators discuss electoral reforms bill

A large-scale protest is currently underway outside the National Congress building in Asuncion. Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered outside government buildings in the capital since Thursday morning while senators discuss several bills concerning electoral reforms proposed by major opposition parties. Police have reinforced security in the area, where anti-riot officers were deployed. Travellers are advised to avoid the area around the National Congress and the Palacio de Lopez as, similar to previous anti-government protests in Paraguay, tensions may escalate. Major roads in downtown Asuncion are currently shut due to the protest. In smaller dimensions, other protests are also being reported in other major cities, such as Caaguazu.

US missionary killed in presumed robbery attempt in Canindeyu

A 50-year-old US missionary has been killed during a presumed robbery attempt in Canindeyu, eastern Paraguay. ABC Color reported that Wayne Laroy Goddard was shot several times when armed criminals raided his farm in Villa Ygatimi. A man has been arrested after a police operation was launched in the region. Goddard has been living in Paraguay for more than 25 years. He is reportedly a member of the US Peace Corps.

Mass demonstration to take place in Asuncion

A mass demonstration is scheduled to take place in Asuncion on Thursday. The demonstration is the 26th annual Poor Campesino March - endorsed by the influential National Campesino Federation (FNC). Additional security measures have been launched in Asuncion. The protest is set to start at 08:00 local time from the Parque Seminario and head towards the Plaza Uruguaya. ABC Color reported that the route includes parts of the Kubtischek, Eusebio Ayala, General Aquino, Azara and Paraguari avenues. Travellers should expect severe travel disruption throughout the day.

Thousands affected as heavy rainfall hit central Paraguay

More than 8,000 families have been affected after heavy rainfall triggered widespread flooding across central Paraguay. According to the National Emergency Secretary (SEN), adverse weather conditions are battering the country since Friday. The most affected are indigenous communities based in the Bajo Chaco region, while hundreds of residents in Central and Concepcion departments are also being impacted. Besides the isolation of some rural areas, power outages are also being reported. SEN has reported that adverse weather is forecast to continue and mainly affect the departments of Concepcion, San Pedro, Amambay, Canindeyu, Presidente Hayes, Alto Paraguay and Boqueron. SEN's Miguel Kurita told ABC Color that the number of families affected may increase as there are a number of communities that are isolated. For daily updates, travellers are advised to follow alerts from SEN.

Soldiers deployed to assist prison officers after rebellion threats

Soldiers are set to be deployed to assist law enforcement agencies to curb the threat of prison riots in Paraguay. Vice-President Hugo Velazquez said that the move comes after a prison guard was injured in Concepcion. The government is concerned over reports of a coordinated effort from the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC) to launch violent riots in Paraguayan prisons. The threats are believed to be issued to pressure the government to halt extraditions of PCC members to Brazil. President Mario Abdo Benitez is currently in Brasilia to meet his counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro. They are set to discuss further bilateral ties and increasing security cooperation along the porous border between both nations.

Police officers arrested for shooting at school van near Asuncion

The authorities are investigating a police-related incident in which two young girls were shot in Aregua, near Asuncion. The incident happened on Monday afternoon when a school van failed to stop a police checkpoint. EFE reported that the victims were injured when police officers opened fire at the vehicle. According to the National Police, there are numerous irregularities reported during the incident. At least five police officers were arrested as investigations are ongoing. Preliminary findings suggest that the vehicle was not marked as a school van and that the police officers involved in the shooting were not wearing police uniforms.

Joint operation leads to massive cocaine seizure in Concepcion

Over two tonnes of cocaine have been seized during a joint operation in Concepcion, northern Paraguay. According to Paraguay's National Anti-drugs Secretariat (Senad), the seizure happened on Wednesday in a rural property in the town of Yby Yau. The operation was led by the public ministry and the notorious Joint Task Force (FCT). President Mario Abdo Benitez praised the operation and considered it a historical achievement. This is claimed to be the largest cocaine seizure in Paraguay. Yby Yau is located along the Ruta 5 highway, the main route between Concepcion and the bordering city of Pedro Juan Cabellero. Besides the presence of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP), some Brazilian-based criminal groups are also known to operate from bordering towns across Concepcion and the neighbouring Amambay department.

Deputy chief of anti-kidnapping unit killed in Capitan Bado, Amambay

A deputy chief of the police anti-kidnapping unit has been killed after a shooting broke out in Amambay, northern Paraguay. Rufino Acosta Gil was shot in the head during a police operation in the bordering town of Capitan Bado. The violent shooting broke out on Thursday after police officers intercepted two suspected kidnappers. Acosta succumbed to his wounds after being taken to a Brazilian hospital in Coronel Sapucaia. The operation targeted a kidnapping ring responsible for the abduction of a local businessman in Capitan Bado. Criminal groups engaged in kidnapping, drug-trafficking and arms smuggling widely operate along the Brazilian-Paraguayan border, especially in areas barely monitored by the police.

Local businessman kidnapped in Capitan Bado, Amambay

A local businessman has been targeted in an express-kidnapping in the bordering city of Capitan Bado, Amambay province. Local media reported that the victim was targeted on Tuesday morning and released after his family reportedly paid a ransom of nearly 70,000 reais ($19k). The victim was the owner of a local grain distribution warehouse. Capitan Bado is located just opposite to the Brazilian town of Coronel Sapucaia, Mato Grosso do Sul. Kidnappings along the Brazilian-Paraguayan border often occur. They are mainly attributed to criminal groups that are also engaged with drug-trafficking. Other areas of concern include the bordering towns of Ciudad del Este and Pedro Juan Caballero. Mato Grosso do Sul has announced the reinforcement of security along vulnerable border areas which are currently barely monitored.

Brazilian tourists reported missing in Concepcion

Two Brazilian tourists have been reported missing after climbing the Cerro Memby in Concepcion, northern Paraguay. ABC Color reported that a group of three climbers and firefighters were taking part in the activity near the town of Yby Yau. Reports suggest that the group dispersed after being attacked by a swarm of wasps. A joint rescue operation is underway. Cerro Memby is located on Ruta Nacional 5, near the Brazilian border.

Indigenous groups occupy squares in Asuncion

Indigenous groups across Paraguay continue to occupy several squares in the capital, Asuncion, as part of a long-standing demonstration to demand further government assistance. Hundreds of indigenous people are currently camped on the Uruguaya and Armas squares to demand government funding and the purchase of indigenous lands in northern Paraguay. Local authorities said that they are still negotiating with indigenous leaders. Several roadblocks have been reports on those areas. Indigenous groups often occupy those squares to protest.

Heavily armed criminals raid small border town in Canindeyu

At least two houses and a car dealership were set ablaze when heavily armed criminals raided the bordering town of Ypejhu, Canindeyu department. ABC Color reported that dozens of heavily armed men in five pickup trucks opened fire and threw explosives at the buildings in the early hours of Wednesday. It is still unclear what the circumstances behind the incident are, but it is believed to be drug-related. No casualties were reported. Ypejhu is reportedly at the centre of territorial disputes involving rival criminal factions based in Brazil. The town is located opposite the Brazilian town of Paranhos in Mato Grosso do Sul state.

Congress summons former President Cartes over alleged links to money laundering

Paraguay's Congress has summoned former President Horacio Cartes to testify over his alleged involvement in money laundering. Cartes is being accused of links to the infamous Brazilian money-exchanger Dario Messer, who remains at large. Messer is wanted by both Brazil and Paraguay for illegally moving more than $1.6bn through 52 countries. It is believed that Cartes's cousin was involved in a massive scheme in Paraguay that is believed to have moved up to $40m. Cartes resigned from the presidency in June to run for senator - Congress later blocked him from being sworn into office over constitutional grounds.

Rising levels of Paraguay River trigger mass evacuations in Asuncion

Paraguay's National Emergency Service (SEN) has confirmed that more than 38,000 people have been evacuated due to widespread flooding in Asuncion. SEN has stated that the number of families affected has risen to 7,500. Residents living along the Paraguay River have been forced to evacuate due to rising levels of the Paraguay River, located in the western region of the capital. Since October, vulnerable families have been gradually evacuated from high-risk areas in Asuncion. Asuncion usually experiences its rainy season between October and January.

Brazilian drug-trafficker extradited amid wave of extraditions

Paraguay's Interior Ministry has informed that another Brazilian drug-trafficker has been extradited to Brazil. According to a statement, Rovilho Alekis Barboza was removed from the country on Thursday. AP reported that he was transferred to the bordering town of Ciudad del Este, where he was handed over to Brazilian authorities. Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor said that in the next few weeks, at least a dozen Brazilian drug-traffickers will be extradited. Several Brazilian criminals part of violent criminal groups, such as the PCC and Red Commando, are currently detained in Paraguay. Barboza's extradition comes days after another drug-trafficker was extradited after killing a woman during a prison visit.

Man kidnapped by the EPP found dead in San Pedro

A 54-year-old Brazilian national has been found dead just days after being kidnapped in San Pedro, northern Paraguay. Paraguay's Defence Minister Bernardino Soto Estagarriba said that the victim was abducted alongside four Paraguay campesinos from the El Ciervo farm in the northern area of the department. Reports show that several assailants wearing military outfits targeted the victims and set their tractor on fire. Estagarriba said that preliminary investigations suggest that the assailants are part of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). The EPP is widely active in San Pedro, where they are engaged in kidnaps. Most victims are members of the Paraguayan Mennonite community and local farmers. President Mario Abdo Benitez has called for the reinforcement of the Paraguayan Joint Task Force (FTC), which was specifically created to counter the group.

Brazilian trafficker extradited after prison murder

The infamous Brazilian drug-trafficker Marcelo Piloto has been extradited to Brazil after President Mario Abdo Benitez ordered his removal from Paraguay. While he was awaiting his extradition, Piloto allegedly killed an 18-year-old woman during a prison visit last week. The incident forced President Benitez to replace the head of the National Police and order his immediate extradition. He is being sent to a maximum security prison in southern Brazil. Piloto is a senior member of the infamous Brazilian-based Red Commando. He was arrested last year after he fled to Paraguay.

Lawyer of two notorious drug-traffickers killed in Pedro Juan Caballero

The lawyer of two notorious drug-traffickers has been killed in Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. Laura Casuso was shot dead when armed criminals targeted her outside a building near the Brazilian border. Casuso was the lawyer of Brazilian drug-traffickers Jarvis Pavao - arrested in 2009 - and Marcelo Piloto, who was recently detained in Asuncion. Both are linked to Brazilian-based rival criminal factions in Rio and Sao Paulo.

Flooding triggers evacuations in Asuncion

Paraguay's National Emergency Secretary (SEN) has stated that more than 6,000 families have been evacuated from high-risk areas after downpour triggered flooding in Asuncion. According to reports, most families are from the Banados area of the capital, located along the Paraguay River. Heavy rainfall has forced the river to burst its banks and spread across several communities. SEN has also stated that hundreds of others were also affected in the southern department of Misiones and the central departments of San Pedro and Concepcion. Since October, vulnerable families have been gradually evacuated from high-risk areas in Asuncion. Asuncion usually experiences its rainy season between October and January.

State of emergency declared due to floods in Asuncion

A 90-day state of emergency has been declared in Asuncion after widespread flooding affected hundreds of families across the capital. Paraguay's state media reported that more than 1,000 families were evacuated and taken to shelters due to the overflow of the Paraguay river. Hundreds of families were also affected in the departments of San Pedro and San Pedro del Ycuamandyju. Flooding in Asuncion and central Paraguay tend to become common during the rainy season, which usually runs between October and March.

Three Red Commando members killed in Presidente Franco

Three suspected members of the Brazilian-based Red Commando (CV) have been killed during a police operation in Presidente Franco, located at the tri-border area with Brazil and Argentina. According to prosecutors, clashes broke out during a police raid to a safe house, where several weapons were recovered alongside explosives. The CV and the First Capital Commando (PCC) widely operate in the region. They are often involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping and attacks to banks and cash-in-transit vehicles. Since President Mario Abdo took office, operations against such groups intensified. Presidente Franco is located near Ciudad del Este, just opposite to Brazil's Foz do Iguacu and Argentina's Puerto Iguazu.

Flooding affects hundreds of families in Asuncion

More than 300 families have been affected after heavy downpours triggered the overflow of the Paraguay River in Asuncion. People were forced to evacuate their houses in the Banado Sur and Chacarita neighbourhood. Residents along the shores of the Paraguay River have long complained about the lack of contingency measures to tackle flooding in the region. In January, more than 18,00 people were forced to evacuate after the river burst its banks. Paraguay's Met Service, DINAC, forecast that heavy rainfall and adverse weather may still affect some regions in central and north-eastern Paraguay, especially the departments of San Pedro, Guaira, Caaguazu, Norte de Alto Parana and Canindeyu.

Five Brazilians arrested for jail-break plot

Five Brazilian nationals have been arrested for plotting to free a drug gang leader from a jail in Paraguay. Four men and a woman were captured during a joint operation carried out by law enforcement officials from both countries. The group planned to help a leader from the Red Command group escape over the weekend.

Judges investigated for inadequately handling sex abuse case

Three judges are being investigated for allegations of inadequately handling a sexual abuse case involving a priest and a minor. AP reported that the judges were responsible for sentencing Reverend Felix Miranda, who was given a suspended sentenced and an 800-dollar fine. All the judges are suspended. The case refers to a case reported in 2006 when the girl's mother made a fruitless complaint to church authorities. Scandals of sex abuse have shaken Latin America in recent weeks after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of two bishops allegedly linked to an abuse case in Chile.

Dozens of high-calibre rifles stolen from police station in Capiata

Interior Minister Juan Ernesto Villamayor has said that investigations are being launched into the disappearance of more than 40 high-calibre rifles from a specialised police station in Capiata, outskirts of Asuncion. According to reports, 42 FAL rifles were stolen and later replaced by dummy weapons during a period of nearly a year. Paraguay is one of the main weapon-smuggling routes into Brazil and Argentina. Regional partners have previously criticised the country for lax gun laws.

Fugitive attorney general turns himself in

Paraguay's former attorney general, Javier Diaz Veron, has turned himself in after spending nearly two weeks at large. A court in Asuncion has ordered his detention two weeks ago after he was charged with money laundering. His wife has also been detained. Diaz Veron is being accused of laundering thousands of dollars through dummy corporations in Paraguay. He was a close ally of former President Horacio Cartes.

Thousands protest against pension reforms in Asuncion

Thousands of protesters gathered outside the National Congress in Asuncion as senators voted in a controversial bill aimed at introducing reforms to the country's pension system. Unions and workers' associations called for the protest at the Plaza de Armas on Thursday. The bill is intended to regulate and standardise pension funds. Senators overwhelmingly rejected the bill and sent it back to the lower house of Congress for amendments. This is the first challenge posed to recently-elected President Mario Abdo Benitez.

Former Attorney General at large after being charged with corruption

Paraguay's former attorney general, Javier Diaz Veron, is still at large after the Public Ministry ordered his detention for links to corruption. His wife is also being investigated for money laundering. Diaz Veron is accused of illegally garnering more than 15bn guaranis ($2.6m) in public money since he took office back in 2010. Last December the opposition bench at the Paraguayan parliament submitted a request to remove Diaz Veron from office over an accusation of influence peddling, which emerged after the release of an audio recording featuring two close aides to President Horacio Cartes.

Mario Abdo Benitez sworn in as president

Colorado Party's Mario Abdo Benitez is set to be sworn in to office on Wednesday. Benitez is replacing Horacio Cartes, who was elected senator in April. Benitez is set to continue the long-standing ruling of the conservative Colorado Party after defeating liberal candidate Efrain Alegre. Among many challenges, Benitez faces degrading levels of poverty in Paraguay despite a stable economic performance during his predecessor's government. He will be in office until 2023. Although protests were banned in Asuncion, low-level demonstrations may still occur in some areas around the city.

Minister's plane crashes moments after taking off from Ayolas

The National Civil Aviation Directorate said that the missing airplane, in which the country's agriculture minister was on board, has been found near the airport of Ayolas, southern Paraguay. The light-aircraft was located on Thursday morning nearly six kilometres away from the airport. The aircraft was reported missing on Wednesday evening after taking off towards the capital, Asuncion. It was transporting Agriculture Minister Luis Gneiting, who was killed alongside four other passengers.

Four robbers shot dead near Chore, San Pedro

Four suspected robbers have been killed during a shooting with the police in San Pedro, northern Paraguay. EFE reported that the incident happened on Friday afternoon near the town of Chore, where the group was preparing a robbery. According to Paraguay's ministry of interior, a violent shooting broke out when a plateless vehicle under investigation was ordered to stop.

Congress speaker rejects President Cartes resignation

President Horacio Cartes has withdrawn his resignation after the Paraguayan Congress Speaker Fernando Lugo refused to accept the request over constitutional grounds. President Cartes submitted his intention to resign to run for Senator back in late-May. According to Paraguayan law, as a former president, Cartes is granted a non-voting seat known as senator-for-life. The same situation is applied to former president Nicanor Duarte.

President Cartes resigns to swear in as senator

President Horacio Cartes has resigned ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in Senate. President Cartes was elected as senator last April when his fellow party member Mario Abdo Benitez was elected as the country's new president. Opposition parties widely criticised Cartes election because as the former president he was already granted a seat as senator-for-life - such would not grant him a vote. However, the Supreme Court refused claims that his election to a full Senate seat was unconstitutional. Vice-President Alicia Pucheta became the new president until Benitez is sworn into office in mid-August.

Taxi drivers erect roadblock along major international bridge

Roadblocks have been erected along the Brazil-Paraguay Friendship Bridge (Puente de la Amistad) as Brazilian taxi drivers join lorry drivers in a wave of protests against fuel prices in Brazil. Both ways of the bridge are currently blocked. Puente de la Amistad links the eastern Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este to the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguacu.

Austrian national reported missing in northern Paraguay

A 62-year-old Austrian national has been reported missing after heading to a national park in northern Paraguay. Wilhelm Wabnegg was last seen in early-May while leaving from the Cerro Leon hills to the Defensores del Chaco national park, near Bolivia. Wabnegg's motorhome was found intact a week after his disappearance. Wabnegg has been travelling with his motorhome through South America since November and planned to stay in the region for more than a year. A local indigenous tribe joined the police in searching efforts, which include dense vegetation with diverse wildlife.

Ministry issues alert over chikungunya cases in Amambay

Paraguay's ministry of health has issued an alert after more than 43 cases of chikungunya were reported in Amambay department, eastern Paraguay. Most incidents were reported in the bordering town of Pedro Juan Caballero. Authorities confirmed 45 cases nationwide, while more than 220 others are being investigated. Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne disease, which symptoms may include joint and muscle pain, fever and headache.

Several cases of Chikungunya reported in Pedro Juan Caballero

The ministry of health has confirmed that more than a dozen cases of Chikungunya have been so far reported in Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. Authorities believe that the cases reported this year across the bordering town are all imported from Brazil. Furthermore, authorities also confirmed that the number of suspected cases of dengue fever are also on the rise in Asuncion and some area in the Central department. Chikungunya and dengue are mosquito-borne diseases. Symptoms may include joint and muscle pain, fever and headache.

Opposition candidate claims fraud to presidential vote

Opposition candidate Efrain Alegre has called for a vote recount over fraud allegations on last weekend's presidential vote. Alegre ran as the candidate of the centre-right coalition GANAR, which suffered a narrow defeat to Colorado Party's candidate Mario Abdo Benitez. Alegre accepted preliminary results promptly released just hours after the vote, but he said that he will closely monitor the official vote counting - vote-by-vote counting is usually employed to confirm preliminary results given through a system that expedites the initial vote-counting process.

Customers held hostage during petrol station heist in Asuncion

Several customers and staff members were held hostage after heavily armed criminals raided a petrol station in eastern Asuncion. Local media reported that a large sum of around $180k was stolen from the safe. The incident happened at the intersection between the Santa Teresa Avenue and Juan Emiliano O'Leary street. Petro stations are often targeted across Paraguay, especially during the night.

Colorado Party's Mario Abdo Benitez wins presidential race

Former Senator Mario Abdo Benitez was elected the new Paraguayan president. Benitez is set to continue the long-standing ruling of the conservative Colorado Party after garnering around 46.5 percent of the votes against liberal candidate Efrain Alegre, who got 42.7 percent. Paraguayans also elected new members of both houses of Congress and governors of all 17 departments. Among the newly elected senators is President Horacio Cartes.

General election scheduled for 22 April

Paraguayans are set to head to polls to vote in the country's general elections scheduled for 22 April. Preliminary polls suggest that the candidate for the ruling Colorado Party, Mario Abdo Benitez, holds a large advantage over his main rival, Efrain Alegre, who leads the opposition centre-left coalition GANAR. Besides choosing a new president for a five-year term, the election will also select new members of both houses of Congress and all 17 departments. The process will be closely monitored by a team of the European Union and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Soldiers injured during clashes with the EPP in Concepcion

Two soldiers within the Joint Task Force (FTC) have been injured in clashes with members of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). The incident happened during a military operation near Arroyito, Concepcion. The operation came amid a recent crackdown launched against EPP position in northern Paraguay, which is set to continue over the next few days. The EPP is responsible for a number of kidnaps in central and northern Paraguay.

Opposition submits complaint within OAS ahead of presidential vote

Paraguay's left-wing opposition coalition, GANAR, has submitted a complaint to the Organisation of American States (OAS) against President Horacio Cartes's bid for Senate. In a statement released on Wednesday, GANAR claims that the candidacy of Cartes and former President Nicanor Duarte are unconstitutional. The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled that all opposition challenges to the Senate bid of three members of the ruling Colorado party have been dismissed. Elections are scheduled for 22 April.

Minister confirms five dengue fever deaths in Paraguay

At least five people have been killed after contracting dengue fever in Paraguay. Health Minister Carlos Morinigo told ABC that five deaths and more than 1,400 cases of dengue fever have been already confirmed. Furthermore, the circumstances behind more than 20 others deaths are still being investigated. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease common in Latin America. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle and joint pain.

Supreme Court clears challenges to Senate bids ahead of elections

Paraguay's Supreme Electoral Court (TSJE) has ruled on Thursday that all opposition challenges to the Senate bid of three members of the ruling Colorado party have been dismissed. The TSJE said in a statement that the candidacy of  President Horacio Cartes, VP Juan Afara and former President Nicanor Duarte are lawful, according to the constitution. Fernando Lugo, incumbent opposition senator and former president, was also challenged and later cleared by the same rule. General elections are scheduled to take place in April.

Taxi drivers to stage anti-Uber protest in Asuncion

The US Embassy in Asuncion has announced that a demonstration is scheduled to take place across the Paraguayan capital. Taxi drivers are set to erect roadblocks and gather around the central areas of the city to protest against the app-based transport service Uber. The protest is scheduled to start on Wednesday morning at 06:00 and will last throughout the day. Caution has been advised as demonstrations in Paraguay may suddenly turn violent.

Released EPP hostage being treated for leishmaniasis

The abducted Mennonite farmer released last week is currently being treated after he contracted a cutaneous leishmaniasis while in captivity. Health officials told EFE that Franz Hiebert was admitted to a hospital in Asuncion after he got infected while spending three months in captivity by the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease usually transmitted by sandflies across tropical regions. Symptoms may take weeks to develop and mainly includes sores on the skin.

EPP releases Mennonite men after ransom payment

Members of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) have freed two Mennonite men who had been held for nearly five months. Reports revealed that Bernard Blatz Friessen and Franz Hiebert Wieler were found in a rural area in central Paraguay after their family paid an overall ransom of more than $1,2m. In early January, a kidnapped Mennonite man was found dead after his family failed to pay the ransom. Abraham Fehr's body was recovered in a grave in northern Paraguay. The EPP is a small left-wing guerrilla group who maintains a presence in the rural areas of Paraguay, especially the Concepcion and San Pedro departments.

Opposition challenges President Cartes's Senate bid

Members of the opposition Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) have challenged within the Supreme Electoral Court the candidacy of President Horacio Cartes for the Senate. Cartes will run as speaker of the Colorado Party, which among its candidates will also include former President Nicanor Duarte. The PLRA claims both senatorial bids are anti-constitutional. PLRA's challenge comes a day after the deadline for the nomination of candidates for the upcoming general elections in April.

Former President Fernando Lugo to run for Senate re-election

Paraguay's left-wing opposition, Frente Guasu (FG), has submitted their candidates ahead of the general elections scheduled for late-April. In a statement released on Monday, the FG announced that former president and current Senate speaker, Fernando Lugo, is set to lead the party's bid in the Congress upper-house. The FG is closely allied to the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA). Both form the Alianza GANAR, which submitted film-maker Leo Rubin as the coalition's VP candidate.

Dengue fever deaths trigger alert across Asuncion

On Saturday, health authorities confirmed that two people have died in Asuncion after contracting dengue fever. Both victims were young women who lived in the capital and died within the last month. Paraguay's ministry of health has also announced that 40 neighbourhoods across Asuncion are on alert due to a potential outbreak. Most areas excluded are affluent neighbourhoods in southern and northern Asuncion. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease, whose symptoms may include a severe headache, muscle and joint pain and high fever. As a preventive measure, travellers are advised to use insect repellent and remain vigilant while in urban areas.

Border patrol to demand yellow fever certificate over Brazilian outbreak

Paraguayan authorities have announced on Wednesday that an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) for yellow fever will be required for travellers coming from or heading to south-eastern Brazil. According to interior ministry's General Director of Migrations (DGM), the measure is already in effect and includes travels to risk areas where the yellow fever outbreak is considered most severe: Sao Paulo, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. Brazil already launched a massive vaccination campaign after hundreds of yellow fever cases were recorded in the country's south-east.

State of emergency declared over floods in Asuncion

A 30-day state of emergency has been declared across Asuncion after widespread flooding forced evacuations in the capital. The Mayor of Asuncion revealed that more than 20,000 people were forced to leave their homes due to the overflow of the Paraguay River. Such a phenomenon is considered unusual during the summer months. The most affected areas were the southern Tacumbu neighbourhood, where around 1,600 families were evacuated. The rainy season in Paraguay occurs during the summer and lasts until April.

Hundreds of families evacuated over floods in Asuncion

Hundreds of families have been evacuated after heavy rainfall triggered widespread flooding in the outskirts of Asuncion. Residents were taken to shelters after the Paraguay River overflowed on Sunday. The rainy season in Paraguay occurs during the summer and usually lasts until April.

Attorney General refuses to step down amid corruption probe


On Monday, Paraguay's Attorney General Javier Diaz Veron announced that he will remain in office despite being implicated in a corruption probe. Diaz Veron is accused of illegally garnering more than 15bn guaranis ($2,6m) in public money since he took office back in 2010. Last December the opposition bench at the Paraguayan parliament submitted a request to remove Diaz Veron from office over an accusation of influence peddling, which emerged after the release of an audio recording featuring two close aides to President Horacio Cartes.

Police recover three bodies in Capitan Bado

At least three bodies have been recovered at a house in the bordering town of Capitan Bado, eastern Paraguay. Preliminary reports suggest that all the victims are related and further searches were launched as the number of casualties is feared to be higher. The circumstances behind the incident remain unclear. Capitan Bado is located along the Brazilian border and present high levels of violence are mainly attributed to transnational drug-trafficking groups.

Judge orders extradition of former FIFA official to the US

A prominent former FIFA official is set to be extradited to the US over allegations of involvement in a massive bribery and money laundering scheme that engulfed the global football body. US Justice Department is investigating Nicolas Leoz, the former president of the South American Football Confederation, for receiving millionaire bribes to grant TV and marketing rights. Leon is currently under house arrested in Asuncion. The rule comes amid an ongoing five-week trial in New York, where dozens of influential sports officials have been implicated in widespread corruption schemes that were unveiled back in 2015. Last week, 52-year-old Argentinian lawyer killed himself after being accused of accepting bribes while working with a government-funded football programme.

Police investigate kidnapping of 11-year-old in Amambay

Police officers are investigating the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy who was presumedly kidnapped in Amambay, eastern Paraguay. Local media reported that the incident happened in the early hours of Sunday morning when criminals stormed the victim's grandfather's residence in the bordering town of Pedro Juan Caballero. The boy is the son of a Brazilian veterinarian who also lives in the same town. Kidnaps are common in Pedro Juan Caballero, which shares a largely unmonitored border with the western Brazilian town of Ponta Pora. 

State of emergency declared over drought in western Paraguay

A state of emergency has been declared to western Paraguay as more than 20,000 people across 18 indigenous communities are currently being affected by widespread drought. The World Health Organisation (WHO) along with regional and national entities launched contingency plans to tackle water shortages and a potential outbreak of water-related diseases across the region known as the Paraguayan Chaco. The area most affected is Teniente Irala Fernandez district - more specifically the villages of Pozo Amarillo and La Esperanza - in the Presidente Hayes department.

Brazilian farmer and grandson kidnapped in Nueva Toledo, Caaguazu

A 73-year-old Brazilian national and his grandson have been kidnapped at a farm in Caaguazu, southern Paraguay. Local media reported that both victims were riding a tractor in the Colonia Margarita in Nueva Toledo when they disappeared. Reports suggest that family members received a call with ransom demands for the release of Alecio Dresch and his grandson Leonardo Farias. Police officers are investigating if the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) or another criminal group are behind the abduction. 

Nationwide protests planned

On 18 October, the National Intersectoral Coordinator (CNI), a worker's confederation, announced plans for a nationwide protest.  This is in response to to the government's assistance offered to farmers who are struggling as a result of damaged crops due to recent storms.  Farmers claim the government's response has been inadequate and believe the government has no real intention of providing aid to starving families. The CNI and the ministry agreed earlier this month to enforce the national emergency law for farming families across the country after weeks of negotiations following marches and demonstrations in the capital. The promised food kits and financial assistance is still to reach thousands of families.  The date of the planned protest has not yet been announced.

Two killed and scores injured as strong winds hit southern Paraguay

Two people have been killed and several others were injured after strong winds ravaged southern Paraguay on Sunday. The most affected areas are the departments of Cordillera, Caaguazu and Misiones, where widespread damage was reported after winds reaching up to 100km/h knocked down structures and power lines. Severe weather conditions are expected to continue over the weekend across the southern and eastern regions of the country with potential risks of tornadoes and dangerous whirlwinds.

EPP kidnaps Mennonite man in San Pedro

Presumed members of the outlawed Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) ambushed and kidnapped a 22-year-old Mennonite man in San Pedro province, central Paraguay. Reports revealed that heavily armed men attacked Bernand Blatz Friessen near Estacia Lucipar area while he was driving his pick-up truck on Friday. The Mennonite community in Paraguay is often targeted by the EPP. Last week, the 31-year-old farmer Franz Hiebert Wieler was kidnapped from a nearby location when suspected EPP members attacked his tractor.

Youngster kidnapped in Capitan Bado, Amambay

A 17-year-old youngster has been kidnapped near the border in Amambay, eastern Paraguay. Local media reported that the victim was abducted near a shop which belongs to his family in Capitan Bado. Family members said that criminals demanded a sum of 30m guaranis ($5,300) - an amount which was paid in full before the victim's release in the remote Ka'agy Poty area. Kidnaps are frequent along the Paraguayan border with Brazil, mainly due to unmonitored border crossings and a lack of police presence.

Police raid suspect PCC base in Amambay

Paraguayan police have raided a suspected operations base of the Brazilian group First Capital Commando (PCC) near the bordering city of Pedro Juan Caballero, Amambay. At least 15 people were arrested during the raid at a farm located in Lorito Picada, where weapons and other equipment were seized. Paraguayan media reported that the detainees are suspected of attacking an empty cash-in-transit vehicle in the Montelindo area in mid-July. The PCC is widely active along the Brazilian border and is often responsible for hampering criminality levels in the region.

Protests to continue as President vetoes campesino bill

Widespread protests are expected to intensify in downtown Asuncion after President Horacio Cartes - backed by Finance Minister Lea Gimenez - vetoed a bill aimed at granting subsidies and easing public debt to small farmers. Demonstrators are gathered in the capital's downtown for weeks to demand the government to scrap their private and public debt, along with demands for subsidies and other land policies. Travel around the area is very disrupted, while violence during peaceful demonstrations in Paraguay tends to escalate quickly. Protests are likely to continue as the Senate is struggling to amend the bill before being re-sent for presidential approval.

Riot police deployed as protests intensify in Asuncion

Riot police were deployed to the streets of Asuncion as thousands of people were marching towards the presidential palace on Wednesday. Demonstrators were contained after a strong police presence erected roadblocks across the central areas of the capital. Campesinos engaged in a three-week-long protest to demand that the government scrap their private and public debt, along with demands for subsidies and other land policies. Protests are likely to continue until the President Horacio Cartes and the Finance Ministry address their grievances.

Dozens evacuated as fire spreads to residential area in Asuncion

More than a dozen houses have been completely destroyed after a fire spread across Asuncion. Locals in the capital's Santa Ana neighbourhood were preventively evacuated when the blazes, which started at a landfill, quickly spread towards a nearby residential area. So far, no casualties have been reported, while firefighters attempted to extinguish the intense flames overnight on Wednesday.

Four killed as criminals open fire at a club in Amambay

At least four people have been killed and six others were injured during an armed attack in Amambay, eastern Paraguay. Local authorities revealed that the incident happened in the early hours of Monday when heavily armed men opened fire at a club in Pedro Juan Caballero. Preliminary investigations suggest the attack was carried out by the Brazilian-based First Capital Commando (PCC), which holds a strong presence along the Brazilian-Paraguayan border.

Extreme weather causes one death in Capitan Bado, Amambay

Extreme weather claimed the life of a 64-year-old man in Amambay, eastern Paraguay. The victim was found dead on the streets of Capitan Bado. The police believe he died of hypothermia due to sub-zero temperatures recorded overnight on Tuesday. Weather conditions are likely to improve from Wednesday after the whole region was heavily affected by an intense cold front.

Campesinos resume protests in Asuncion

Thousands of Campesinos are still protesting in front of the National Congress in Asuncion amid ongoing talks with the government. Demonstrators from several parts of the country marched to the capital last week to demand government action on public subsidies and other matters regarding agrarian policies. On Monday the government announced plans to hold an emergency meeting in order to assess their grievances. Widespread disruption, especially to traffic, has been reported in central Asuncion due to daily demonstrations and roadblocks.

Thousands of campesinos stage protest in Asuncion

Thousands of Campesinos have marched towards Asuncion to request government action on the deep agrarian crisis in Paraguay. Demonstrators gathered in front the National Congress to demand that President Horacio Cartes resolve an ongoing land dispute involving hundreds of rural settlements and ask for more state subsidies. Farmers' organisations claim that the government's agrarian policies have largely failed, resulting in the increase of poverty levels across Paraguayan rural communities.

Hundreds to drive to Asuncion against grain tax

Hundreds of farmers are set to take to the roads nationwide ahead of the Senate voting on a bill to increase the tax on grain exports. Paraguay's Agriculture Coordination (CAP) revealed that farmers across the country are ready to drive their tractors and other agricultural vehicles towards the capital Asuncion if the bill is approved on Thursday. CAP revealed that a lorry drivers' association will also support the demonstration. Small-scale demonstrations are already in place across several rural Paraguayan regions.

Fernando Lugo to become Senate's president

Left-wing Senator Fernando Lugo is set to become Senate's president as lawmakers are scheduled to cast their votes on Thursday. The Front Guassu politician is expected to be elected among a multi-partisan agreement with the Liberals and the right-wing Colorado Party. With the position as president of the Congress' Upper House, Lugo has moved into the line of succession for the presidency. Lugo is Paraguay's former president and resigned five years ago after 17 farmers were killed in the Caruguaty massacre.

Police under alert for potential PCC attack in Coronel Oviedo

Regional authorities remain under alert after police intelligence suggest an imminent criminal attack in Coronel Oviedo, southern Paraguay, led by the Brazilian-based group First Capital Comando (PCC). Security in the region has been reinforced, especially in banks and the city's airport. The warning comes as authorities predict a similar attack to the one in April, where a security company was raided by heavily armed criminals in the bordering city of Ciudad del Este.

Parana river increasing levels trigger alert in southern Paraguay

The Hydrology Department of the Yacreta Dam in southern Paraguay issued an alert over the rising levels of the Parana river. With heavy rains expected in the following days, monitoring services recorded a significant increase in water levels around the Port of Ayolas. An emergency was already declared across several areas in southern Paraguay after nonstop rain triggered widespread floods.

Finance Minister resigns to run for 2018 elections

Paraguay's Finance Minister Santiago Pena handed over his resignation on Monday ahead of his bid to run for the 2018 presidential elections. Pena aims to gather enough party support in the primaries to run as a candidate for the ruling Colorado Party. The move comes after President Horacio Cartes cancelled plans to seek a second term in office following widespread protests against his proposals to change the constitution to allow his re-election.

Severe weather affects thousands in southern Paraguay

Thousands of people have been affected by nonstop rain in southern Paraguay. The governor of Neembucu department, Carlos Silva, told ABC that 30,000 residents were already affected by the rising levels of the Paraguay and Parana rivers. Heavy downpour is expected to continue nationwide throughout the next few days.


Emergency declared over flooding in Neembucu and Itapua

A 60-day emergency has been declared to Neebucu and the Itapua department, south-western Paraguay, over widespread flooding caused by heavy rains. Thousands of people were affected while local authorities urged the assistance for the National Emergency Service (SEN). Cattle and crops were also deeply affected while roads remain completely blocked. The rainy season in Paraguay occurs during the summer and usually lasts until April.

Lawyer killed near his home in Pedro Juan Caballero

A 28-year-old lawyer has been assassinated moments before entering his home in Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. Atilio Anselmo Urbieta was killed by two armed men on a motorcycle. The motives of the attack are unknown, while the police and the forensics unit were deployed to the area. Crime in Pedro Juan Caballero suffered a significant surge due to violent disputes to secure drug routes along the Brazilian border.

EPP cell raid property and kill guard in Concepcion

A 24-year-old guard has been killed when six armed men stormed a property in Concepcion, central Paraguay. According to the Armed Forces Joint Task Force (FTC) the crime happened on Wednesday afternoon when presumed Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) cell raided a residence in Arroyito. FTC's spokesperson told Hoy that a letter was left for the landowner with undisclosed demands. EPP remains highly active in central Paraguay, carrying out kidnapping and attacks targeting security forces and local landowners.

Robbery suspects killed in police crackdown in Brazil

Brazil's Federal Police (PF) targeted eight suspects linked to the millionaire robbery at a cash-in-transit company in Ciudad del Este, eastern Paraguay. An operation launched on Tuesday led to the death of three suspects and the arrest of five others. It is believed that 50 criminals took part in Monday's cross-border raid, where a police officer was killed and $40m was stolen.

Criminals stage millionaire robbery in Ciudad del Este

More than $40m has been robbed from a cash-in-transit company warehouse in Ciudad del Este, western Paraguay. Heavily armed criminals raided a Prosegur warehouse located near the Brazilian border, which was reinforced around the Hernandarias area as criminals are feared to cross the border. One police officer was killed and four people were injured while 15 vehicles were set ablaze during the raid.

President quits re-election bid due to protests

Following a wave of violent protests nationwide, President Horacio Cartes announced an intention to quit his re-election bid. Cartes proposed a constitutional change to allow presidents to seek re-election triggering widespread criticism from the main opposition, the Liberal Party. In early April, at least 30 people were injured when the parliament in Asuncion was set on fire, triggering the resignation of Interior Minister Tadeo Rojas.

Three killed due to severe weather across Paraguay

Three people have been killed as storms hit Paraguay on Monday. The National Emergency Secretary (SEN) informed that a nine-year-old girl and a woman died after their home collapsed in Misiones, southern Paraguay. In the capital Asuncion, a man was killed after being dragged by a river stream. More than 80 families were affected, as storm alerts remain active in nine departments in southern, central and eastern Paraguay.

Thousands isolated due to road collapse in Itapua

More than 2,000 families have been affected after a road collapsed in Itapua, southern Paraguay. Local authorities believe that the situation was triggered by the local dam's sluices opening, which drove the San Benito Lake to overflow. Most residents in Obligado remain isolated as a part of the Granero Sur road remains completely destroyed.

Four kidnappers arrested in Santa Rosa del Araguay

Four suspected kidnappers have been arrested in several raids across Santa Rosa del Araguay, central Paraguay. They are the main suspects in the kidnapping of Gerardo Wall, a Mennonite farmer of Rio Verde, where he was kidnapped on 17 March and released 24 hours later. The suspects are believed to be part of a gang led by Randulfo Vasquez, a peasant leader presumedly linked to the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP).

Armed gang raid cash-in-transit vehicle in Alto Parana

At least 19 heavily armed men have raided a cash-in-transit vehicle in Alto Parana, eastern Paraguay. The vehicle was heading from Ciudad del Este to San Alberto on Monday, when five cars ambushed the vehicle near Santa Fe. About one billion guaranies ($183,000) were taken while a police officer and two guards were severely injured during the attack. The criminals fled the scene and abandoned their vehicle near Acaraymi.

National Police in Alto Parana on alert after wave of unrest

Following the wave of unrest last week in Asuncion, the National Police has been put on high alert. In Alto Parana, south-eastern Paraguay, the police commander announced on Thursday that police stations across the region will work to its full capacity during the weekend. The measure aims to avoid unrest and violence spreading across areas near the Brazilian border.

Interior minister sacked after violent protests in Asuncion

Paraguay's Minister of Interior Tadeo Rojas was sacked after violent protests escalated in Asuncion on Friday. The Chief of Police Crispulo Sotelo was also fired following a police raid on the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) headquarters, where a 25-year-old political activist was killed. Protests erupted in Asuncion - where the parliament was set on fire - after the Senate approved a bill to lift term limits on presidential mandates.

Parliament set on fire as protests escalate in Asuncion

At least 30 people were injured when protests escalated on the streets of Asuncion on Friday evening. Demonstrators backing the opposition Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) stormed the streets to protest against a constitutional reform aimed to scrap term limits for presidential mandates. Violence erupted when a 25-year-old activist was killed as the police raided PLRA's headquarters. In response, PLRA's supporters set the parliament on fire.

Thousands march nationwide to demand agrarian reform

The National Peasants' Federation (FNC) has launched a massive nationwide march on Tuesday afternoon to mark the FNC's 24th annual event. Thousands of demonstrators stormed the streets of major Paraguayan cities to demand the long contested agrarian reform. The FNC claim that more than seven million hectares are still left to be redistributed while demanding more subsidies to small rural businesses.

Bordering cities under alert over drug route disputes

The National Police reinforced its presence along the Brazilian border over an ongoing wave of violence triggered by drug-trafficking groups. The heightened security alert regards territorial disputes along the international drug trade route between Paraguay and Brazil. The areas of most concern are Ciudad del Este, Saltos del Guaira and Pedro Juan Caballero; where authorities suspect the presence of Brazilian First Capital Commando (PCC) militia.

Suspect guerrilla members arrested in Ypane

A massive police operation targeting militant members of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) and the Peasants Armed Association (ACA) was carried out on Monday morning by the National Police. Four suspects were arrested in Ypane, southern Paraguay, over alleged logistical support to both groups. The EPP and the ACA - the latter a splinter group from the former - are often involved in kidnappings and extortion targeting prominent local farmers and businessmen. 

Bus and lorry collision kills six in Ypacarai

Six people have been killed in a collision between a passenger bus and a lorry in central Paraguay. The crash happened on Wednesday evening, when the lorry carrying steel plates reportedly suffered a break failure and collided with the bus in Ypacarai. The passengers were en route from Villarrica to the capital Asuncion. Bus accidents in Latin America often occur, especially at night, due to reckless driving and poorly maintained vehicles.

Emergency declared over locusts plague in western Paraguay

A 60-day state of emergency was declared to Chaco region, western Paraguay, due to a locust plague. The measure comprises the areas of Alto Paraguay and Boqueron, where $160,000 will be allocated to fight the plague through fumigation. The plague is believed to be the remnants of a similar outbreak in central Bolivia's Santa Cruz region.

EPP to release hostage after ransom payment

The Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) have released a hostage video as proof of life of Franz Wiebe. In the video, Wiebe is reading a letter while surrounded by five armed militiamen and a 'most wanted' image of Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes. Wiebe's family complied with the group's demands of distributing US$50,000 in food to a local indigenous community as a ransom payment. Wiebe was kidnapped in July in Rio Verde and is set to be released in five days time.

Police seize 25 tonnes of Venezuelan currency

Paraguayan police seized more than 25 tonnes of Venezuelan bolivar notes on Monday in Salto de Guaira, northern Paraguay. The currency - in 100 and 50 bolivar notes - was stashed in bags at a property believed to be from an arms dealer. The authorities suspect the material was aimed to be used for counterfeit US dollars notes. In late-December the Venezuelan government ordered all 100 bolivar notes to be removed from circulation - a measure postponed to 20 February as higher denomination notes failed to arrive on time - to tackle criminal groups smuggling currency out of the country.

Thousands march against presidential reelection in Asuncion

Militants of Paraguay's Pyahurra Party (PPP) marched on the streets of Asuncion on Monday against government plans to implement presidential reelection. Traffic was heavily disrupted as demonstrators took over the main roads heading to the National Congress. Paraguay has been facing a deep political downturn since the ruling Colorado Party endorsed the idea of promoting a constitutional reform regarding the potential reelection of President Horacio Cartes in 2018.

Local business raided by kidnappers in eastern Paraguay

Five armed men kidnapped a businessman, his son and several employees at an establishment in eastern Paraguay. The incident happened near the border city of Pedro Juan Caballero in Lorito Picada, where moments later all hostages were released, except the businessman's son. Reports state that on the following day, Thursday, the family paid a ransom of US$50,000 for his release, while preliminary investigations suggest that at least one criminal was known by the family.

Outlawed group releases hostage footage

Paraguayan media has released footage of Felix Urbieta, who was kidnapped nearly four months ago by presumed militants part of the outlawed Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). In the video, Urbieta is in a green outfit and is surrounded by armed men wearing military gear. According to the Joint Task Force (FTC) the video was released after the family requested proof of life in order to proceed with the ransom payment - initially established at US$500,000, but currently lowered to US$350,000. The video comes weeks after other footage allegedly proving the life of Franz Wiebe was released on local media.

Shootout erupt at service station in Pedro Juan Caballero

A shootout between security forces and criminals has led to the death of two people in Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. The incident happened at a service station on Wednesday afternoon when the assailants posing as costumers attempted to rob the facility. One of the suspects was killed at the scene while the other succumbed to his wounds in a local hospital. Pedro Juan Caballero is located near the Brazilian border and suffers a surge in cross-border criminal activity.

Wave of violence against women triggers protest in Asuncion

Militants part of social and political organisations protested in front of the ministry of women in Asuncion over the recent wave of gender-based killings in Paraguay. The demonstration was called over the death of six women reported since the start of 2017. An increase in gender-based violence against women, mostly caused by their partners, triggered widespread protests in several Latin American countries in 2016.

Off-duty police officer attacked in Ciudad del Este

An off-duty special operations police officer engaged in a shooting after being targeted by armed robbers in Ciudad del Este, near the Brazilian border. The incident happened on Wednesday afternoon in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood when the officer withdrew 27 million guarani (US$ 4,600) from a local bank. The victim was approached by two men and shot in the hip, while both criminals obtained severe injuries in the shootout. According to the police, it is likely that the victim was being followed by the criminals after he left the bank.

Militia group releases hostage footage

Footage of Franz Wiebe - a hostage taken by Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) - has been released to the media by his family. In the footage, Wiebe is surrounded by two heavily armed masked militias while reading the terms of his release. In the statement the EPP demanded a ransom of US$ 100,000 to be distributed across several poor peasant villages in central Paraguay. A military Joint Task Force spokesman told La Nacion that the video was recorded in late-2016, claiming that the 'EPP aims to sell their image of social sensibility of helping the country's poor while attacking the government' amid a propaganda battle.

Health minister raises concern over Yellow Fever spread

Paraguay's Health Minister Antonio Barrios has raised concerns over the potential spread of Yellow Fever to Paraguay. Barrios has stated that the most vulnerable population - newborns, children and early-age youngsters - should immediately take the vaccine in order to prevent any infection. He reinforced the alert issued in late-December over the recent cases reported in Colombia, Peru and, most recently, Brazil. The announcement comes just days after the ministry of health raised an alert over the infection risk of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya through mosquito bites in the country's inland.

Authorities concerned over violent robberies by criminal bikers

The Paraguayan authorities have announced a rising level of attacks carried out by criminals on motorcycles. Since the start of 2017, at least 11 cases have been reported across the country. The police believe the phenomenon is enhanced by the current drug trade in major urban centres. The main concerns regard the level of violence used by the criminals - often under the influence of drugs - who attack victims even if they don't resist robbery.

Ministry of health urges preventive measures over mosquito bites

Paraguay's ministry of health has recommended the usage of insect repellent in travels to the country's inland. The main concern regards the potential infection of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya through mosquito bites. The three diseases often present similar symptoms such as fever, irritation behind the eyes and muscular pain in the joints. If any of the symptoms erupt, especially in pregnant women or the elderly, it is advised to promptly head to a medical centre. 

Journalist's vehicle set on fire in Guairá department

The vehicle of a renowned regional journalist has been set ablaze in Guairá department, southern Paraguay. Initial reports state that unknown men targeted Nino Silguero Rodas's car parked near his home on Tuesday evening. The victim told Ultima Hora that no threats were made against him and that the attack was carried out without any apparent motives. Silguero is the presenter of an informative radio programme in Villarrica.

Three suspected kidnappers arrested in San Pedro

Three suspected kidnappers have been arrested amid a police crackdown in San Pedro, central Mexico. The suspects were detained after several raids were carried out on Wednesday in Santa Rosa del Araguay area. The authorities believe that the group is connected to a kidnapping in Río Verde, where three minors were taken on the evening of 08 January. Preliminary investigations suggested that the area hasa strong presence of Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) militants, who widely engage in kidnapping activities.

Two women attacked by criminals in Asunción

Two women have been attacked by robbers in the capital Asunción. On Tuesday afternoon, three men on motorcycles approached their victims on the Bella Vista neighbourhood and snatched their belongings. Residents told La Nación that such incidents occur frequently in the area.

Main opposition to draft political trial against presidential reelection

The government's main opposition, Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), is drafting a political trial against President Horacio Cartes. The announcement was made on Monday by the PLRA's leader Efrain Alegre, who claimed that Cartes is violating the constitution amid his attempts to seek reelection - forbidden under Paraguayan constitution. Alegre said that "a legislative commission is working on the accusation to be presented in Congress," under allegations that Cartes was misleading electoral campaigns. Paraguay has been facing a deep political downturn since the ruling Colorado Party endorsed the idea of promoting a constitutional reform regarding the potential reelection of Cartes in 2018.

Two drug-suspects killed in shooting, Asunción

An intense shooting has taken place in Asunción as three people have been attacked by gunmen. The victims, allegedly connected to a international drug-trafficking group, were gunned down on Sunday by their pick-up truck in the Republicano neighbourhood. Two of the vehicle's occupants were killed and one survived without any injuries. Police sources state that over 100 shots were fire at the victims' vehicle. The authorities believe that the targets operated in the eastern city of Pedro Juan Caballero - a known operations-base for cross-border criminal gangs.

Hundreds evacuate theatre in Asunción over bomb threat

Hundreds of people have been evacuated due to an unconfirmed bomb threat in Asunción. The evacuation took place during a celebratory concert at the Paraguay's Central Bank convention centre on Tuesday evening. The police informed that a suspected explosive device was placed inside the building, which is being further investigated. False bomb threats in Paraguay is a recurrent issue which mainly affect large events and crowded public areas. 

Armed men kidnap farmer's son in Concepción

At least four armed men have stormed a residence in Concepción, central Paraguay, and have taken hostage the relatives of a prominent local farmer. The incident happened in the town of Yby Yaú, where the employees and sons of the farmer were targets of an express kidnapping. The assailants initially demanded a ransom of nearly US$50,000 (300 million guarani) and took the hostages after the payment was refused. According to the La Nación, this is not the first family member of the farmer to be kidnapped, as the victim had already paid a significant ransom on a previous occasion. Despite being unclaimed, the area is known to house the Paraguay People's Army (EPP) militants, that often kidnap rich landowners and their relatives to demand large cash ransoms.

National police launches crackdown on guerilla movement in Concepción

On 16 December, the National Police issued a high security alert for the country's northern area over the ongoing operations against the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP). The crackdown aims to locate four kidnapped people, including a police officer and a prominent farmer, through checkpoints across Concepción and San Pedro. The EPP is a small Paraguayan guerrilla movement that mainly operates in the countryside. The group often hold the victims hostage for a long period of time and usually demand high sums of money for their ransom

Dozens of businesses destroyed by flooding in San Pedro

Dozens of local businesses were completely destroyed by the rising levels of the Aguaraymi river in San Pedro, central Paraguay. The region known for its local pottery industry was flooded, forcing the population of Nueva Germania and San Pedro de Ycuamandyyu to be evacuated and relocated to higher ground. Business owners demand the government pays a subsidy towards the reconstructions efforts in the area, after equipment and factories were destroyed. The Aguaraymi river flooded following days of heavy downpour, which comes amid the Paraguayan rainy season that lasts from October to May.

Dozens march to support re-election amendment

On 11 December, dozens of people stormed several streets of Asunción in support of the constitutional amendment allowing a presidential re-election. The march entitled 'Let the people decide' united several protest groups who claim the measure will allow the people to decide if a politician shall be re-elected or not. The demonstration leaders stated that the protests will continue until the constitutional draft is handed in to the National Congress and, potentially, approved. The Paraguayan constitution does not currently allow a president to be re-elected or hold office more than once. The amendment comes as former president Horácio Cartes announced his intentions to run for office in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections.

Two suspected EPP supporters arrested in eastern Paraguay

Two suspected members of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) have been arrested after the authorities raided their residence and found 45 kg of marijuana along with material supporting the EPP. The arrest has generated outrage among some supporters of the suspects, leading to a protest in front of the prison in Acaray, eastern Paraguay. The EPP is a very active guerilla movement and it is suspected of involvement in the ambush in early September of eight soldiers in northern Paraguay.

Man shot dead by armed criminals in Amambay

A 24-year-old has been shot dead by armed criminals in Amambay department, eastern Paraguay. The incident was reported on Saturday night when armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on the victims in Bella Vista Norte, close to the Brazilian border. The police believe that the attack was a retaliation, as his brother was also shot dead by criminals seven years ago. The areas near the Brazilian border are often troubled by organised crime groups that operate trans-nationally - both in Paraguay and Brazil.

Hundreds stage protest on the roads of Ciudad del Este

Workers of multiple syndicates and associations stormed the streets of Ciudad del Este, eastern Paraguay, to protest against the government's decision to hand over an area of land to private sector projects. The protesters gathered at the Plaza La Paz, heading towards the Puente de la Amistad, near the Brazilian border. The 11-hectare terrain belongs to the National Navigation and Ports Administration (ANNP), who refused to accept the decision to concede the area for the building of a hotel.

Authorities declare emergency over heavy rains in Departamento Central

Between 26 and 28 November, severe weather and heavy rains struck the Departamento Central region of western Paraguay. The authorities declared a state of emergency in the region due to the intense economic losses and infrastructural damage, particularly in the Lambaré and Villa Elisa areas. The National Electricity Administration (ANDE) stated that services to over 1,000 houses were fully affected. Paraguay's rainy season usually lasts from October to April.

Doctors' syndicate call strike to demand salary increase

On 28 November, the National Doctors' Syndicate announced a week-long nationwide strike. The action comes as part of the attempt to pressure the Paraguayan parliament on salary increases and an adjustment of wages for nearly 2,000 medical professionals. The ministry of health stated that the strike is unlikely to affect emergency and health services across the country, as it believes the attendance will not be overwhelming. This is the second strike in less than one month, after doctors held a 48-hour strike over pensions in early-November.

College students stage protest against subsidy cuts in Asunción

On 24 November, the National Federation of College Students (FENAES) led a protest against the cuts proposed on the transport subsidy for students in Paraguay. The group gathered in front of the Ministry of Public Works and Communications (MOPC) in Asunción to demand that the measure be scrapped. According to the FENAES leader, the MOPC proposed a cut on the number of daily reduced fare travels to students, which may affect a considerable number of students who live far from their schools. During the economic downturn in Paraguay, the MOPC is one the ministries that has suffered the most cuts in the current year's budget.

Restaurant stormed by criminals in central Asunción

Early on 21 November, a restaurant in central Asunción was robbed by armed men. The security guard of the Ña Virginia restaurant, in the Vista Alegre neighbourhood, was tied up on the ground while at least five robbers searched for the safe. The assailants failed to find the safe and fled the scene 30 minutes later with the guard's mobile and wallet along with some electronic equipment. The police are investigating the incident, and believe that the restaurant was deliberately targeted, rather just the victim of an opportunistic attack.

Widespread protests in San Estanislao over electricity chief resignation

On 18 November, the Mayor of San Estanislao, in central Paraguay, called for the suspension of public services amid political grievances with the National Republic Association (ANR) - Colorado Party. The move came as several political groups staged protests on the streets of the city over the resignation of the district chief of the National Electricity Administration (ANDE), Ariel Venialdo, by ANR's Perla de Vázques. Lobby groups gathered in front of the ANDE headquarters and marched towards the Cruce Gauica neighbourhood to demand the reinstatement of Venialdo. On the other side, however, several people supported the decision and called for further protests on the Bernadino Caballero square to pressure the decision to be accepted.

Six found guilty for kidnapping of farmer in Pedro Juan Caballero

The country's general attorney imputed six men accused of involvement in the kidnapping of a farmer in Pedro Juan Caballero, near the Brazilian border. The men were found guilty of extortion, kidnapping and organized crime. The victim, Martín Hartmann, was abducted on the evening of 18 November, when a group of criminals driving a pick-up truck approached him near his farm located in the Ynambú neighbourhood. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of US$ 300,000, which was not paid. Hartmann was released after a police operation surrounded the assailants in Alto Verá area, Itapúa, southern Paraguay. Pedro Juan Caballero is place prone to kidnappings and extortion of prominent farmers and businessmen.

Hundreds of teachers stage nationwide protest over salary increase

Hundreds of public school teachers across the country launched a protest to demand a salary increase from the government. The action comes at the time when students are expected to take their final exams. The protesters gathered in front of the National Congress in order to pressure the ministry of education to pass the salary increase bill. Further protests were also reported across the country in Alto Paraná, San Pedro and Encarnación. Miguel Marecos, president of Paraguay's School Directors Syndicate, said that nearly 95 percent of the schools are closed. The action come as the Paraguay's Teachers Federation (FED) announced a series of demonstrations against the education policies led by President Horacio Cartes administration.

Taxi driver shot dead in Asunción

Early on 11 November, a taxi-driver was killed in the outskirts of Asunción. Two armed men riding a motorcycle approached the vehicle in the San Antonio de Areguá neighbourhood. According to the police, the victim, Serafin Marecos, was heading to pick up a passenger in the area. Preliminary investigations led to the conclusion that the attack was not a robbery, as Marecos still had all his belongings. 

Two more dead amid wave of assassinations in Pedro Juan Caballero

Two separate murder cases were reported on 8 November near the border town of Pedro Juan Caballero, eastern Paraguay. The first incident took place between the towns of Maria Auxiliadora and Santa Clara, where local criminals abducted and executed a man known as Eugenio Mereles Brítez. During the afternoon, a Brazilian national was killed near the town of Capitán Bado. According to preliminary police reports, the deaths were gang related. The local population urged the national police to reinforce its presence in the border area due to the recent wave of assassinations carried out by local criminal groups.

Engineering faculty remains on lockdown amid student strike

The students of the Engineering Faculty of the National University of Asunción (FIUNA) are nearly completion of 100 days of striking and occupation of the main institution's buildings. The students are demanding the university's dean, Ever Cabrera, to step down after he was implicated in a corruption scandal. The authorities have been working to avoid the confrontation between the students and faculty employees, who are opposed to the occupation. The leaders of the movement have said that despite the ultimatum issued by the faculty's administration, the facilities will remain occupied until Cabrera's resignation.

Strong winds and heavy rain causes destruction in Asunción

Severe weather caused by strong winds and heavy rainfall led to a widespread destruction in Asunción. The storm lasted from the evening of 7 November until the early hours of 8 November. At least 25 trees fell along with several walls, and electricity polls were damaged after winds reaching up to 100 km/h were reported. A 64-year-old man was killed after stepping onto a loose electric cable in the city of Ypacaraí, on the outskirts of the capital. Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by power outages in the area. The meteorological authority stated that the storms are likely to continue in following days.

City's sport director assassinated in Coronel Oviedo

On 4 November, an alleged targeted execution took place in Coronel Oviedo, southern Paraguay. The  city's sport director, Julio César Ayala Caballero, was shot over a dozen times as he sat inside his pick-up truck near the city's main road. The police have launched an investigation into the incident. Paraguay has been facing a severe threat to politicians amid several accusations of politicians involved with criminal groups.

Public sector doctors initiate 72-hour general strike

On 7 November, public sector doctors launched a 72-hour general strike. The move comes as medical professionals across the country demand a salary increase from the government. Most of the major hospitals were shut down, however emergency and other essential services remain operational. According to one of the striking doctors, Dr. Augustín Saldívar, the strike will not "cause any harm to the population". Saldívar also emphasised that the last salary review took place in 2011, under the administration of Fernando Lugo.

Vigilante group kills criminal duo near Brazilian border

On 6 November, an underage criminal duo were tortured and killed by local vigilantes. The incident happened near the town of Pedro Juan Caballero, in eastern Paraguay, which often reports high levels of criminal activity. According to the police, the two 14-year-olds were approached by heavily armed men claiming to be part of the self-entitled Los Justicieros de La Frontera, or the Border Vigilantes. Both victims were already known by the authorities as members of a local criminal gang.

President requests party to reject re-election amendment

On 31 October, Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes advised his party, the Colorado Party, to reject the constitutional amendment regarding the plans for a presidential re-election. After a series of widespread protests across the country, he stated that "as a society we have it noted that the proposed amendment does not generate consensus”. He also enhanced the fact of the constitutional and legal basis of the draft, which “should be in accordance with the National Constitution and accepted by all Paraguayan society.” Currently, the Paraguayan constitution does not allow a president to be re-elected.

Agriculture Association calls protest over insecurity in eastern Paraguay

Paraguay's Agriculture Association (CAP) called for its members to stage a protest in mid-November over rural insecurity in the country's eastern border with Brazil. The move comes after a 20-year-old Brazilian worker was shot dead on Saturday and another worker was targeted by armed men days later. The leader of the CAP stated that the wave of assassinations are intended to destabilize the government, and accused deposed former president Fernando Lugo of involvement. The protest is set to take place on 16 November at the National Highway 3, between Hernandarias and Salto del Guairá.

Severe weather causes destruction and energy cut in Asunción

Extreme weather in Asunción led to severe destruction and interruption of energy supply across its metropolitan area overnight on 1 November. At least 100,000 families were reported to be affected. Strong winds and falling trees were reported in the Filadelfia and Chaco areas, while the Airport Silvio Petirossi suffered several disruptions. Thousands of families were hit by power cuts in Luque, Limpio, Guarambaré and Villeta. Reports also revealed that the areas of Pueto Sajonia, Lambaré, 3 Bocas, Luque and San Lorenzo were critically hit by the storm. The rainy season in Paraguay usually lasts from October to March, with strong winds and consecutive energy shortages.

Student robbed at gunpoint in Asunción

At 15:15 local time, on 27 October, a 24-year-old student was shot and wounded during a robbery in the central area of Asunción. Two armed men riding a motorcycle approached the victim following a previous robbery attempt reported in the region. The police pursued the criminals, arresting one of them in the Villa Elisa neighbourhood. According to the authorities, the assailants held criminal records and were the target of a arrest warrant issued days before the renewed wave of attacks.

Plans to amend constitution trigger widespread protests

The Paraguayan government is set to discuss a constitutional amendment regarding the proposal to approve the presidential reelection. Under the constitution, it is forbidden for a president to be re-elected. However, Horacio Cartes proposed the bill amid his renewed intentions to run for office. The move caught the attention of the Republican National Association (ANR) of former president Fernando Lugo, who sparked the possibility to become a candidate on next elections. The discussion triggered widespread protests across the country, with many members of the public considering the move a violation of the Paraguayan constitution.

Dozens of students protest at dean's house in Asunción

On 26 October, dozens of students and their families staged a protest in front of the house of Ever Cabrera, dean of the Universidade Nacional de Asunción (UNA). The demonstration was led by students of the Faculty of Engineering, who oppose the plans of Ever Cabrera to postpone the institution's elections. The protesters demand the that elections be held under the supervision of the Electoral Superior Court, in order to avoid unrest. Cabrera is accused of neglecting students who are opposed to his administration, which has been investigated over corruption claims by the country's General Attorney.

Seven soldiers killed in IED strike

Seven Paraguayan soldiers were killed on 27 August in a roadside explosion near the village of Arroyito, 300 miles north of Asuncion. The government has blamed the attack on a leftist guerrilla group called the EPP. The explosive device was placed at a point in the road where a patrol regularly passes.

Hundreds demand President Cartes' resignation in Asuncion

Hundreds of peasants and leftist activists stormed the streets of Asuncion on Monday to pressure President Horacio Cartes to step down. The move was organised by the People's Democratic Congress and called on President Cartes and his entire cabinet to step down, as well as calling for the release of 11 people sentenced last month to prison terms of up to 30 years for the so-called Curuguaty massacre in 2012, in which 6 police officers and 11 peasants were killed. 

Two microcephaly cases linked to Zika virus confirmed

Paraguay's Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday the country's first two cases of microcephaly linked to the Zika virus. The two cases were confirmed in a boy and a girl from the cities of Alto Paraná, near the Brazilian border, and Paraguari, on the outskirts of Assuncion. Since the beginning of the year, 29 cases of microcephaly were reported in the country, however eight of them were discarded, while the remaining are still under investigation. Microcephaly is a congenital birth defect which causes babies to born with unusually small heads and deformed brains. The condition is often linked to the Zika virus, which first appeared in early 2015 in Brazil, however the connection between them remains unclear.

Hundreds demonstrate against unlawful arrests in Asuncion

Hundreds of people marched on the streets of Asunción on Wednesday in protest at alleged unlawful arrests. The protesters demanded the absolution of 11 landless peasants charged over the 2012 clashes in Curuguaty in central Paraguay. The 2012 Curuguaty clashes led to the death of 17 people and, one week later, to the resignation of President Fernando Lugo.

Flooding displaces 100,000 across South America

More than 100,000 people have been evacuated after heavy rains caused widespread flooding in Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.  The majority of those affected were in the Paraguyan capital, Asuncion, where the River Paraguay burst its banks.  The Paraguayan government declared a state of emergency in the city and seven regions, while several people have reportedly been killed by falling trees.

Thousands join anti-government protests

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to march against President Horacio Cartes' right-wing government.  High school students, teachers, public transportation workers and health workers all held strikes against government policies on education and labour.  The National Secondary School Students Federation (Fenaes) and teachers from various unions rallied outside the National Congress in the capital Asuncion to demand increased investment in education ahead of discussions on the 2016 national budget.

EPP guerrillas repelled in Concepcion kidnapping

Members of the Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) guerrilla group attempted to kidnap Christopher Edward, administrator of the Aguerito ranch, and Rafael Medina, a ranch worker, from the ranch at Aguerito, Horqueta, Concepcion Department. The would be kidnappers were repelled when the two men shot back at them. The exchange of fire alerted other workers who immediately came to the help of the two men. 

German couple killed by guerrillas in Paraguay

A German couple have been killed by rebels near their cattle ranch outside Yby Yau, around 400km north of the capital, Asuncion.  Robert Natto and Erika Reiser, who had farmed in Paraguay for over 30 years, were found on Thursday with multiple bullet wounds after the military exchanged fire with the Paraguayan People's Party (EPP).  They had been kidnapped along with four ranch workers on Wednesday.

Rebel leader killed in clashes with security forces

The leader of Paraguay's Armed Peasant Association (ACA) has been killed in shootout with security forces. Albino Jara, known as Commander Milciades Leon, died during an operation by the Joint Task Force near the town of Cuero Fresco.  The ACA is a spin-off of the country's main guerrilla group, the Paraguay People's Army (EPP).

Thousands evacuated from flooded capital

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from Paraguay's capital, Asuncion, after torrential rain caused widespread flooding in the city.  Around 75,000 people have been moved to higher ground after the Paraguay and Parana rivers broke their banks.  President Horacio Cartes said the government would do all it can to support people affected by the floods.

Journalists protest in Asuncion over colleague's murder

Hundred's of journalists have gathered outside the Interior Ministry in Asuncion to demand that the government find the killers of a murdered colleague.  Fausto Gabriel Alcaraz, who reported on drug trafficking in the northern city of Pedro Juan Caballero, was shot dead on Friday evening by gunmen on motorbikes.  The demonstration was called by the Journalists Union of Paraguay (SPP).

Leftist rebels kill five in San Pedro

Five security guards have been killed by suspected leftist rebels at a cattle ranch in the northern San Pedro region.  Interior Minister Francisco de Vargas said that the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) had carried out the attack.

Horacio Cartes elected as Paraguay's president

Tobacco tycoon Horacio Cartes has been elected as president of Paraguay after his main rival, Efrain Alegre of the ruling Liberal party, conceded defeat.  The vote came after President Fernando Lugo was controversially impeached last year, leading to Paraguay being suspended from the regional blocs Mercosur and Unaur.

Paraguay Data Sheet

Population:
6.5 million
Major Religion/s:
Christianity
International dialing code:
+595
International dialing prefix:
00
Emergency services:
911
Drives:
Right
Voltage:
220V
Climate:
Sub-tropical
Ohter Major Cities:
Ciudad del Este
Borders:
Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina