Something’s rotten in the state of Paraguay #UNAnotecalles
In Paraguay, thousands of students are protesting against the UNA’s (state-run national university, Universidad Nacional de Asunción) president Froilán Peralta and asking for his resignation. This began with a newspaper’s investigation which proved that Froilán Peralta hired friends and relatives and gave them positions as secretaries and teachers in the university.
Tatiana Cogliolo Izquierdo, a 21-year-old elementary school teacher and Peralta’s niece, earns almost six minimum wages. Approximately 2400 U$ a month, in the current exchange rate. They also revealed that Froilán Peralta earns 51,449,200 guaraníes a month, which is around 9,500 u$.
These revelations prompted the students to demand that Froilán Peralta resign.
On September 16, the students began what is unofficially being called the “Paraguayan Spring,” by protesting and refusing to move until Froilán Peralta resigns.
On Tuesday, September 22, the university’s council members gave Froilán Peralta a temporary leave of absence. If he does not resign, the investigation required to oust Froilán Peralta may take months, because even more council members (around 60 people) need to call for a general assembly and study the case. Among these members are several people who support Froilán Peralta. The students do not trust the council members, so they’re pushing for him to resign.
Among Froilán Peralta’s main supporters is Senator Carlos “Kalé” Galaverna. He admitted to committing fraud in the Colorado Party internal elections in 1992 and was never prosecuted.
The students have not left the university’s office, while Froilán Peralta is still missing. Allegedly, he has refused to resign unless the deans that preside over the university’s other faculties also follow suit.
Yesterday, September 24, a woman was intercepted by the students as she left the office with papers. The woman is María del Carmen Martínez, allegedly one of Froilán Peralta’s collaborators. She planned on leaving the university aboard a security vehicle, but the students set up a human barricade and prevented her from leaving. The students called a district attorney at around 9:00 PM, accusing the woman of stealing documents. The district attorney showed up four hours later, and instead of gathering evidence, tried to free María del Carmen Martínez. The students claim that while María del Carmen was inside the car, she began to eat the papers she was hiding. The woman’s sister, Gladys Zumilda Martínez de Degeller, is listed as a teacher in the Veterinary faculty and earns 6,455,500 guaraníes a month.
Meanwhile, the students outside the office were able to photograph and film the people who were hiding inside the office. They found two women lurking in the darkness, apparently shredding and destroying papers.
Computers were being handled remotely.
María del Carmen Martínez was taken to the nearest police station, accompanied by students. She refused to be searched and asked for permission to go to the bathroom, claiming she wasn’t feeling well. The police found papers and two pen drives in her power.
This morning, evidence was found that papers were burned in the University’s faculties which are spread out around Asunción and the main campus located in San Lorenzo. They seem to be receipts, bank statements and contracts.
The women who were hiding inside the office since last night were removed this morning, and taken to a police station to be prosecuted. Their names are Luz Aquino and Leticia Deggeller. Leticia Deggeller is María del Carmen Martínez’s niece.
The students kept vigil over the office all night, camping around the building. It was sealed off by another DA, who claimed he could not enter the building without a warrant. The two women were trapped inside.
Today, Paraguay’s general prosecutor has finally issued an arrest warrant for Froilán Peralta and twelve other people who work at the university.
Meanwhile, the students still camp outside the office. No international news outlets are covering the issue. Several local newspapers, with alleged ties to government members also ignored what’s going on.
Paraguay has a long history of governmental corruption going unpunished. Several cabinet members have been found benefitting their relatives and friends with high salaries and governmental positions in the past year. However, their cases end up dismissed or forgotten. This is the first time that a massive, unified group is trying to change things. The UNA was once regarded as the best university in the country, and its ranking has plummeted. While the government claims they have no funds for scholarships or to finance investigative papers, the workers’ salaries say otherwise.
Here is a list of how much they earn.
Help us by sharing and spreading the word. We need international press coverage so this does not go unpunished. We need the world to know that the students are fighting back and they’re not giving up until the university is purged of its corrupt authorities.
Froilán Peralta has resigned and turned himself in. We need the story to be shared, now more than ever. He’s facing three years in jail if he’s found guilty of several corruption charges. Unless we follow this through and force the government to act, he’ll walk free.
Buzzfeed has published an article explaining what’s going on.