Paraguay Sends Troops onto Streets in State of Emergency

Paraguay’s military has been deployed in two northern provinces after the government declared a state of emergency in response to attacks attributed to the EPP rebel group.

President Fernando Lugo signed the measure on Monday, declaring a 60 day state of emergency in the northern departments of Concepcion and San Pedro. The move allows the government to mobilize the armed forces and suspend certain civil liberties for the duration of the period.

The emergency legislation was proposed in response to an attack by EPP rebels on a police checkpoint outside the city of Horqueta, a city in the northern province of Concepcion, which killed two officers on September 21. Congress indefinitely delayed the bill, with lawmakers opposing the declaration, but approved it hours after a soldier was wounded with a bullet at the same checkpoint on October 5. The incident is suspected to have been an attack by the rebel group.

The government has sent troops and armed vehicles to the streets of the cities of Concepcion and San Pedro.

The government’s move to declare a state of emergency has generated controversy in some circles. Retired General Carlos Liseras criticized the military response as being disproportionate to the threat posed by the EPP, which may have as few as 50 members. During an earlier state of emergency declaration, military forces mistakenly attacked local police headquarters, but the commanding general of the operation insisted that police-military relations have improved and their operations will be coordinated.