Asunción, Paraguay: The joy of burning Congress – a symbol of state oppression


The powerful in Paraguay are masters of everything, including social and political conflicts. They have many tentacles. They let people take part in these conflicts but only as spectators or pawns. Forced to participate in this way, the people sometimes awaken and reinvent the conflict according to their own interests and demands, breaking with what the elites expect of them, overcoming their assigned roles and dramatically changing the situation.

This is what we saw on March 31. The burning of the Congress was not part of the plans of the elite to handle its internal conflict, however it was the desire of the people to set fire to an institution that symbolizes decades of political oppression. The people decided to act on their own desires and experience the joyfulness of burning the Congress, by destroying all the pre-established plans and escaping the control of power and becoming one with the fire.

The facts change when the people take action and become the protagonists of their own history, and just like the poweful have always expropriated our lives from us, we can expropriate their conflicts and make them ours for a brief moment. The powerful do not like it when the people escape from their control and this is when their operators call for calm in the name of a peace that is for themselves and their own interests, and never for the people. This moment may be very short-lived: now they are calling for calm and social peace.

The moments and popular processes that occur during critical situations such as the one experienced on March 31 do not figure into the plans or the theories of those who dedicate themselves to political theorization and never look beyond their party’s plans.

Direct action and the mobilization in the streets in a learning process in action and people discover that they have more autonomy than they realized during these liberating and constructive experiences of social unrest reacting against years of inequality and political abuses. The individual and collective stories of people manifest and materialize in concrete actions against what they perceive daily as power, and in solidarity with those who are beside them and suffer the same repression. An excellent description of these actions is ‘improvisation’.

The violence of the police was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary, nor was it a surprise as some are now saying. This time the police, as soon as the television cameras were switched off, proceeded to turn the streets of Asunción into a recreation of the Stroessner dictatorship in the 1970s, arbitrarily arresting even those who had walked away from the conflict zone on the night of March 31 and the dawn of April 1, with detainees numbering over 200 people, attacks against the LGTBIQ community, sexist violence, torture and excessive repression, especially the murder in cold blood of young Rodrigo Quintana during the attack against the local political opposition.

Constitutionality, institutionality and legality are not the underlying issues and we all realize that. Legality is the exercise of power subject to their interests during a given time, hence why it changes when their interests change. State violence is a response to extinguish the internal political crisis. It does not surprise us but it does not stop us from being infuriated. The murderers of Rodrigo Quintana do not deserve impunity.

Now is the time to act, to realize the experience of autonomy via direct action, against all the odds and against what is expected of the people, which is submission, obedience to pre-established political party lines and the roles of apprentices and spectators.

Let’s seize the moment and not fulfil the established roles; let’s stop being spectators for a moment. Let’s be people, let’s be action.

Coordination of Anarchist Groups and Individuals of Asunción – COGIA

(via Contra Info, translated by Insurrection News)