Paraguay: Proletarian revolt against the capitalist management of the pandemic
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 17; Spring 2021)
Paraguay, like many poor countries, is ravaged by Covid. This was not the case in 2020 because the state had reacted strongly to stop the spread of the pandemic. This policy did not survive the summer because, hand in hand with business, the restrictions were lifted in July. Today, the pandemic is out of control. The number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths is rising sharply and this is accompanied by a collapse of the public health system. This collapse was predictable ; it is taking place in a country where three quarters of the population have no medical insurance. The pandemic reveals the glaring inadequacy of the health care system: less than 650 intensive care beds in a country of seven million inhabitants, a structural lack of doctors and hospital staff, limited access to medicines... Patients are obliged to buy their own medicines, and some families have to go into debt for this. This situation is accompanied by speculation by pharmaceutical companies and widespread corruption. Vaccines are in short supply: 4,000 at the beginning for 7 million, then 20,000 after deliveries from Chile. At this rate, vaccination will take a century and a half!
This dramatic situation led to a mobilization of health personnel, who were also outraged by the flagrant cases of corruption in the purchase of medicines and medical equipment; the government tried to put an end to it by making health system officials resign (1). But without success.
The discontent of the exploited masses is deep; it is caused by the degradation of their conditions which has seen the reappearance of hunger as a result of the crisis (even if the bourgeoisie claim that the situation - for its profits! - is less bad than in neighboring countries); this is added to the rising unemployment (officially 8% but this does not take into account that about 60% of the jobs are in the informal sector, which is the first to be affected by it) and the rapacity of the capitalists, such as those of the transport industry, who want to take advantage of the crisis in order to raise their prices.
This situation, this real social crime, provoked a healthy proletarian reaction.
On Friday, March 5, a massive demonstration took place in the capital Asunción. In response, the government unleashed its cops against the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. The demonstrators fought back and successfully repelled the henchmen of the bourgeoisie. One demonstrator was shot and killed.
In an attempt to quell the anger, the president offered the resignation of some of his ministers. This did not stop the mobilizations in the streets: thousands of people demonstrated again despite a new police repression.
The proletarian rage is profound but it does not yet manage to express itself on the class terrain. The demonstrators march with national flags or demand a change of government and the resignation of President Benitez (son of the private secretary of the dictator Stroessner, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 35 years before being overthrown by a coup d’état in 1989 after losing the support of the United States). The opposition and the Catholic Church are trying to channel and calm the discontent and once again the slogans about “popular unity” that yesterday led to the crushing of the Chilean proletarians, are reappearing.
The situation in Paraguay is part of that of all Latin America, which is explosive. In the fall of 2019, when the economic crisis was often just beginning, many countries experienced real social explosions. The outbreak of the pandemic, with the various social control measures taken by governments, was used to break up movements of discontentment or revolt. The pandemic has deepened the inequalities, deteriorated the proletarian conditions and it has exposed the contempt of the bourgeois authorities for the fate of the proletarian and exploited masses. Inevitably it pushes the masses back into the streets. The bourgeois commentators sententiously declare that Paraguay cannot serve as an example, given the particular weakness of the democratic and social institutions in that country; on the contrary, by spontaneously entering into struggle, the exploited masses of Paraguay are setting an example and implicitly appealing to their class brothers of the continent. There is no doubt that sooner or later this example will be followed.
In the new season of struggles that is opening, the only way out for the exploited masses will be the independent proletarian struggle, breaking with all those bourgeois and petty bourgeois forces, and carried out with class methods and demands. Otherwise, the movements of anger that are expressed even violently will inevitably be recuperated for a simple facelift of the regimes in place.
In order to resist before being able to attack, the proletarians in Paraguay, as elsewhere, will have to build their own organizations, from the immediate defense organizations to the international class party, which is indispensable to lead the struggles towards the revolutionary assault. The road is still long, but the proletarian masses have taken the first step!
Against all bourgeois forces, against interclassist, popular and nationalist orientations and democratic illusions!
Salvation lies in the international revival of the anti-capitalist class struggle!
(1) The President of the Institute of Social Protection resigned on 10/3 for having “been part of a criminal network that sold essential medicines that were to be distributed free to the population”.
International Communist Party