The teachers of Paraguay are embarking on the latest stage of their long battle to secure proper funding for public education. As well as fighting the desperate underfunding of schools, the teachers and their allies in the secondary school student movement are also fighting for democracy. The Paraguayan government has a history of repressing labour rights and attacking and arresting demonstrators.

The teachers are holding meetings and vigils at schools and colleges this week and on Tuesday they held a strike and a march on the National Assembly together with school students. The central demand is for 7% of GDP to be spent on education, instead of the miserable 3.9% which is earmarked at present. A further strike is planned for the middle of the month.

Importantly the union is also calling for an end to the increasing marketisation of education and other public services, particularly through the TISA trade agreement in services which will benefit privatising corporations and financiers in the US and European Union. 

Paraguay's President is the millionaire business man Horacio Cartes, who has been imprisoned in the past for fraud. A campaign is building up for his removal, with protests by farmworkers, indigenous peoples and this week a strike in the transport sector. The leader of the school students said that the education minister would be prevented from entering any school or college in the country to take part in graduation ceremonies. Student leaders were arrested on trumped up charges in 2014, as a result of exercising their democratic right to campaign for education.

The Paraguayan teachers have received the full support of the Brazilian teachers union CNTE, whose international secretary was present at the conference which set the latest calendar for action.