Paraguay. Both President Mario Abdo Benítez and his Vice
President and Minister of Finance passed a declaration of
confidence on August 20. According to
CountryAAH, the declaration of disbelief had
been demanded by the largest opposition party, the True
Liberal Radical Party (PLRA), for the government's handling
of a controversial energy agreement with Brazil. But the
proposal was voted down by 43 votes to 36 in the House of
Representatives, which prevented it from moving on to the
Senate. On the same day, a congressional commission launched
an investigation into how the agreement came to fruition.
At the same time, figures indicated that the country was
heading for an economic crisis. According to a report from
the central bank in September, the economy was expected to
decline by 3% during the year. The main reason was a decline
in the important soya sector and the fact that American soy
has supplanted Paraguayan soy on the world market.
As in the Brazilian Amazon, forest fires raged in the
Chacor region of western Paraguay and in the world-class
Pantanal area on the border with Brazil. On September 10, a
national emergency was issued, but the WWF estimated that
100,000 hectares, or 70% of the Paraguayan portion of the
Pantanal, had already been destroyed and criticized the
government for responding too slowly to the disaster.
At the beginning of the year, 300 representatives of
Paraguay's indigenous people in the capital Asuncion
demonstrated against Brazilian settlers who intrude on their
traditional land. The murder of an activist from the protest
movement on February 24 increased tensions.