ASUNCION – President Mario Abdo Benitez visited on Thursday a military base serving as a temporary refuge for people forced from their homes by flooding, where he handed out supplies and appealed to Paraguayans not to be “indifferent to the pain” of their compatriots.
“The construction of public policies is our obligation, but showing solidarity is the obligation of all good-hearted Paraguayans,” he said in front of the roughly 200 families living in tents and makeshift structures on the grounds of the army’s 4th Cavalry Regiment outside Asuncion.
Some 7,800 families have been driven from their homes in poor capital neighborhoods by perennial flooding of the Paraguay River, according to figures from the National Emergency Secretariat (SEN).
Most of the evacuees on the 4th Cavalry grounds have been there since 2014 waiting for a permanent home, SEN director Joaquin Roa said.
Juan Carlos Ortellado, leader of a committee representing people awaiting completion of the Nueva Esperanza housing project, took the opportunity of the president’s visit to urge Abdo Benitez to “expedite the process.”
The nearly 8,000 affected families are “well-assisted and supported within the precarity” of their situation, Roa said, while acknowledging that the number of evacuees could increase next March as the river level rises as a result of heavy rains now falling in the north part of Paraguay.