LatinNews Daily - 03 February 2022

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PARAGUAY: Cross-party group seeks to impeach interior minister

On 2 February a group of 28 deputies, including some members of the ruling Asociación Nacional Republicana-Partido Colorado (ANR-PC) and of the opposition Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico (PLRA), said that they were initiating impeachment proceedings against the interior minister, Arnaldo Giuzzio.   

Analysis

The move against Giuzzio comes amid widespread outrage over a shooting incident at a crowded music concert in San Bernardino in the eastern department of Cordillera on 30 January, which left two people dead and five injured. One of the dead was Cristina Aranda, a model and popular social media ‘influencer’; the other was Marcos Rojas, a young man thought to be linked to drug trafficking groups. The police hypothesis is that the incident was sparked by a dispute over payment for drugs between rival gangs, and that Aranda, a mother of three, was simply caught in the crossfire.

  • Because the full congress is currently in recess, the deputies have sought to initiate their impeachment request through the permanent committee of congress, presided by Senator Lilian Samaniego. She has responded by convening an initial closed-doors session of the committee to hear testimonies on the manipulation of the police computer system.
  • Sebastián Villarejo, a deputy from the small Partido Patria Querida (PPQ), said both the interior minister and police chief Luis Arias, should be sacked because of their failure to improve public security. President Mario Abdo Benítez has dismissed calls to sack Giuzzio, saying he has confidence in his minister and will not replace him.
  • Giuzzio is a controversial figure within the ruling party. Last month, in what was seen as a move to influence presidential primaries due this December, he accused former president Horacio Cartes (2013-2018) of money-laundering and illicit enrichment. In what could be interpreted as a countermove, deputies from Honor Colorado, the ANR faction that is loyal to Cartes, are supporting the impeachment request.        

Looking Ahead: Since many deputies have not yet fixed their positions, it is still too early to judge whether an impeachment motion will gather the necessary two-thirds majority to begin hearings in the senate.

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