ASUNCION – Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes dismissed Friday the head of the National Indigenous Institute, or Indi, after the official was caught on videotape kicking an Indian woman at a protest.
“As far as I’m concerned, he has to go. We can discuss any problem there might be, but from the time the person representing the indigenous peoples kicks an Indian, I have no reason to keep him,” Cartes told reporters at Government Palace in Asuncion.
A video posted on the Internet shows Indi director Jorge Servin leaving institute headquarters Thursday escorted by several of its officials, while outside about 100 people are protesting.
When a woman approaches shouting at him, he kicks her in the stomach, as the images show.
Cartes said that after seeing the video, he decided to fire Servin.
“Someone who represents the Indians but doesn’t mind kicking them, I don’t want to discuss it, he has to go,” the president said.
For now, Servin will be substituted by the current head of operations at the National Emergency Secretariat, Aldo Saldivar, Paraguayan media said.
Indi is charged with developing and applying policies for the population segment occupied by the 19 indigenous communities that coexist in Paraguay.
Close to 2 percent of the South American country’s population identify themselves as members of an indigenous people, and approximately 75 percent of them live in conditions of extreme poverty.
The indigenous communities of Paraguay suffer from a lack of healthcare and education, lack of access to drinking water and of support for their business and handicrafts endeavors.