Why the Roots of Paraguay’s Averted Constitutional Crisis Lie in the Countryside

Why the Roots of Paraguay’s Averted Constitutional Crisis Lie in the Countryside
Paraguayans protest against a plan to change the country’s constitution, Asuncion, Paraguay, March 30, 2017 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

ASUNCION, Paraguay—The dramatic events that took place on the evening of March 31 grabbed an unusual amount of international media attention for Paraguay. After months of behind-the-scenes preparations, the governing right-wing Partido Colorado (PC), the left-wing Frente Guasu coalition (FG) and a dissident faction of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) made a bid to change the constitution to allow for presidential re-election, which is prohibited by Paraguay’s post-dictatorship 1992 constitution.

Allies of President Horacio Cartes—one of the country’s richest businessmen, and a political newcomer prior to his election at the head of the PC in 2013—had been working for nearly a year to build the necessary congressional majority to pass the changes. But an abrupt behind-closed-doors vote to consider the possibility of a second term provoked the ire of a normally apathetic general public.

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