Protesters set fire to Paraguay Congress

Protesters were photographed setting fire to barricades in the streets of Asuncion, near the congress building, on Friday night.

Hundreds of protesters battered down doors, burnt tyres and smashed windows before ransacking lawmakers' offices. Police used units, rubber bullets as well as water cannons to scatter the crowd.

The unrest left about 30 people injured, including three lawmakers, according to firefighters and an opposition senator.

Protesters had earlier stormed the Congress and set fire to the building.

The building was eventually cordoned off by police after the entire ground floor burned down.

Herminio Ruiz, the doctor who treated Mr Quintana, told Efe the victim had received a blow to his head, although did not specify what had caused the injury.

Paraguay's Interior Ministry launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death and said that those responsible would be brought to justice.

Cartes called for calm and a rejection of violence in a statement released on Twitter on Friday.

"Everything was done legally", said Senator Carlos Filizzola of the leftist Guasu Front coalition, which supports the constitutional amendment as a way of allowing Lugo to come back as Paraguay's leader.

The bill to amend the constitution must be approved by the other chamber of Paraguay's legislature before it becomes law; however, Cartes' party also holds a majority in that chamber.

The chamber's president announced that the sitting planned for the morning shall be cancelled and therefore no decision will be made on Saturday.

Opponents of the measure, who claim it would weaken Paraguay's democratic institutions, say the vote was illegal.

"We have a commitment to the blood Rodrigo spilled. we will continue the fight", opposition Senator Miguel Saguier said at a press conference. "We must not allow a few barbarians to destroy the peace, tranquility and general wellbeing of the Paraguayan people". The constitution in 1992 given birth to the modern government but there has been political instability as well as a failed coup attempt.

If passed, the change would apply to Cartes, as well as future presidents.

The violence stems from the ruling party's decision to create an alternative Senate with the objective of passing a law that would allow President Horacio Cartes to seek re-election. Mr Lugo was ousted in 2012 over his handling of a land eviction in which 17 people were killed.

  • Leroy Wright