Paraguay’s President, Mario Abdo Benítez, Faces Unrest Over Covid Missteps

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President Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay confronted requires his resignation and enormous avenue protests over the weekend as residents decried the dismal state of the general public well being system, beneath pressure amid a file variety of coronavirus infections.

Paraguay, one of many poorest international locations in South America, has obtained only a few thousand doses of Covid-19 vaccine. Julio Mazzoleni, the well being minister, resigned Friday as crucial care models in hospitals stuffed up and medical doctors ran out of fundamental medication.

Hours after Mr. Mazzoleni stepped down, hundreds took to the streets in downtown Asunción, the capital, to name for the resignation of Mr. Abdo Benítez, a conservative chief who assumed workplace in August 2018.

Protesters and opposition lawmakers stated that the nation’s well being disaster had been exacerbated by pervasive corruption in any respect ranges of public procurement and spending.

“Paraguayans have already paid for medication and vaccines that aren’t right here,” stated the lawmaker Efraín Alegre, the pinnacle of the primary opposition celebration, the Liberal Social gathering. “It’s not the fault of Paraguayan folks — it’s a severe corruption drawback.”

As lawmakers known as for his impeachment, Mr. Abdo Benítez on Saturday known as on all his ministers to draft resignation letters. By the tip of the day, he accepted the resignations of three ministers, together with the minister of training.

The outcry started on Wednesday when medical professionals held a protest in Asunción to name consideration to the shortage of fundamental medical provides. The well being care employees stated that they had run out of medication for chemotherapy remedy and sedatives for sufferers who wanted to be intubated.

For now, Mr. Abdó Benítez seems to have sufficient assist in Congress to keep away from impeachment. However protesters throughout the nation have stated that they intend to proceed holding demonstrations till his authorities falls.

Paraguay shut down its borders and carried out strict measures early within the pandemic, which spared it initially from the big outbreaks seen in neighboring international locations like Brazil and Argentina. However infections have surged in latest weeks, reaching a peak on March 4, when well being officers reported 1,439 new circumstances.

The well being ministers of three different international locations in South America — Argentina, Ecuador and Peru — have stepped down in latest weeks amid scandals and criticism of the methods during which governments have dealt with vaccine distribution and different points of the response to the pandemic.

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