Paraguay: Student Movement Signs Agreement with the Government: “This is a new Victory”

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Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / May 11, 2016

Camila Benítez, leader of the National Student Organization (ONE), said that the agreement signed last Wednesday by the student movement and the government is a “new victory” for the students. She pointed out that they will continue acting as comptrollers to guarantee a better education in the country.

“Nine days ago, 10 students entrenched in a classroom, not knowing the impact that was going to have. Today, we can say that all students are united around a common objective. We achieved that goal, which was not a whim. This is a new victory and we will continue acting as comptrollers of the government”, said the student leader of Paraguay in a press conference after the meeting with President Horacio Cartes.  

Student representatives stated that they criticized the President for having waited so long before meeting with them. Cartes excused himself by saying he had a tight schedule, students said. “Horacio Cartes said that the education of Paraguay is a priority to him, but that because of his tight schedule he hadn’t been able to meet with us”, said one of the representatives of the students after signing the agreement.

After more than a week of conflict, Cartes signed the document in which he agreed to meet the demands of the students to better the quality of the county’s education system.  

The occupation of schools now officially ceases after this meeting, which was held in the Mburuvicha Róga Presidential House and attended by the the new Education Minister (the previous one was forced to resign by the students for corruption and inefficiency), Enrique Riera, and the Finance Minister, Santiago Peña.

The agreement signed between the government and the students addresses the derogation of the Resolution No. 4613 for the conformation of Student Unions, declaring a state of emergency in public education infrastructure, convening a working table and increasing by 7% the GDP allocation for education.

The students affirmed that they will create a system of communication for them to be controllers of the investments in the reparation of the educational institutes in all the country.

In this way, the conflict generated after the occupation of schools is now unlocked. The conflict caused the resign of the minister of education, Martha Lafuente and the naming of Enrique Riera instead.

 

The Conspicuous Presence of “Pro Bono” Advisers:

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It’s worth noting that Cartes was not alone in the decisive meeting of his government with the students. He was accompanied by renowned managers of his companies, who advise the President of the Republic, “pro bono” —that is, for free.

The presence of these consultants in the cabinet meetings caused mistrust in several sectors, and it sustained the argument of a sector of the opposition that maintains that Cartes manages the state like it was one more among his companies.

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