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Community radio stations bracing for possible military incursions following irresponsible accusations by President Duarte

(AMARC/IFEX) - AMARC-Paraguay and the Paraguayan Association for Community Communication (Asociación Paraguaya de Comunicación Comunitaria, COMUNICA) condemn the recent statements by Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte, accusing "community radio stations" in the San Pedro department of acquiring explosives, allegedly in preparation for violent actions to take place on 20 April 2008, national elections day.

In comments to the press, Duarte asserted that there were groups "organising themselves to unleash a wave of violence immediately after the overwhelming triumph of the Colorado Party next Sunday. (. . .) We have information that these groups are planning to attack service stations and public places. We also know that some community radio stations in San Pedro are hiding explosives. So the prosecutors will have to intervene and carry out raids."

However, as of 15 April, the Prosecutor General had not received any indication from the president that investigations should actually be undertaken.

AMARC-Latin America and the Caribbean (AMARC-ALC) is concerned about this situation, for fear that these irresponsible accusations may be a pretext for a crackdown on Paraguay's community radio stations, which are independent of the government. Duarte has not indicated which radio stations he was referring to, nor has he offered any evidence to back his accusations.

The government has also announced that it is sending troops to the San Pedro department to prevent violence. AMARC-ALC hopes that Duarte's statements will not serve as a pretext for violent interventions against either the peasant movement or the community radio stations that give voice to those communities' concerns.

Duarte's comments were made amid a very tense election campaign in which the Colorado Party is facing the prospect of an end to its 60-year reign in power.

In a joint press release COMUNICA and AMARC-Paraguay said they would hold the government responsible should harm come to any people or the radio stations' facilities, and announced that the communities are on the alert and willing to defend their radio stations.

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