SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 24, 2019

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Paraguayan Academy of History

Region & Country:Americas | Paraguay

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 24, 2019, a large group reportedly harassed and vandalized the home of historian Milda Rivarola in apparent retaliation for her activism to preserve the historical heritage of the city, Quyquyhó.

Following news of a decision by Quyquyhó mayor Patricia Corvalán’s to asphalt streets of a historic part of the city, Rivarola, a former professor and member of the Paraguayan Academy of History, organized with local residents. The group presented a letter to Corvalán expressing concern that the asphalt would negatively affect the historic colonial architecture of the city and could damage historic buildings. The group further proposed the city pave the streets with cobblestone instead of asphalt.

On March 24, a large group of protesters assembled on the lawn in front of Rivarola’s home, a historic building in Quyquyhó and a private library reportedly holding a number of valuable historical documents. Protesters threw eggs at the house, set fire to objects on Rivarola’s front lawn, and held signs and chanted slogans demanding that Rivarola leave Quyquyhó and the asphalt paving continue.

In response, civil society groups denounced the protesters’ actions and expressed concern for Rivarola’s physical safety and the protection of the historical integrity of the city, as well as the collection in Rivarola’s home.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about efforts to intimidate a scholar in retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedoms of expression and association. State authorities have an obligation to take reasonable measures to protect the peaceful exercise of these rights, including by holding perpetrators of attacks accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such acts undermine freedom of expression and democratic society generally.