This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Asunción.
OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Paraguay.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Paraguay
country page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact
information, some of which may be available only to private-sector
representatives with an OSAC password.
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this
report’s publication assesses Paraguay at Level 1, indicating travelers should
exercise normal precautions. Exercise increased caution in Amambay, Alto
Paraná, Canindeyu, San Pedro, and Concepción departments due to crime. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Asunción as being a HIGH-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Criminal
activity offers an attractive alternative to youth who lack job-related skills
and legitimate employment opportunities. Crime is generally non-violent, but
the common use of edged weapons and firearms during muggings and street crime
creates the possibility of serious harm. Recent statistics and high-profile
incidents indicate a growing willingness by criminals to use firearms.
Criminals target those they believe to be wealthy, including expatriates.
Robbery, auto theft, burglary, and occasional home invasion crime are a problem
in urban and rural areas alike. Street crime, including pickpocketing and
mugging, is prevalent on public buses and in urban areas. Armed
robbers riding motorcycles (motochorros) approach their victims during
daylight hours and at night. Suspects have wounded or killed victims who
attempted to flee or refused to turn over valuables. The Paraguayan National Police (PNP)
acknowledge that many crimes go unreported due to lack of confidence in the
judicial process. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should
have posed as service people (e.g. mail carriers, reporters, water meter
readers, electrical technicians, delivery persons, maintenance personnel) to
gain access to homes. They sometimes wear uniforms and travel in vans or
automobiles with markings that make the vehicle appear official. Do not let
such people inside your home unless you have contacted the service provider
directly to verify the appointment.
have been instances of bank employees working with organized criminal groups to
identify and rob individuals after they withdraw large amounts of cash. In
addition, organized criminal groups have targeted armored bank trucks in
transit or while conducting money pickups at banks.
Recent Criminal Incidents:
September 2019: Armed suspects wearing
Anti-drug Secretariat (SENAD) uniforms attacked an unusually lightly guarded
prison transport convoy and liberated a notorious narcotrafficking leader. The
attack occurred ten minutes from downtown Asunción, as the prisoner was in
transport back to the detention center from a court hearing. The suspects
killed one police officer and injured two others.
2019: Armed suspects attacked an armored truck transporting currency in the
city of Capiata. The suspects fled with approximately 500 million Guarani (approximately
$73,500) after killing a security guard.
National Police of Paraguay (PNP) continue to report a higher level of crime,
including property crimes and assaults, in downtown Asunción. Most crimes
committed in downtown Asunción occur at night. The Chacarita area, located
along the river, is a known high-crime area, which local police often refrain
has porous borders, particularly along the eastern Tri-Border Area (TBA) with
Brazil and Argentina, through which criminal
organizations easily traffic drugs, people, contraband, and weapons. The
population centers of the TBA include Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguazú
(Argentina), and Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil). Visitors
to the TBA should remain especially vigilant. In 2019, authorities attributed
increased violence along the Paraguay-Brazil border between Pedro Juan
Caballero and Salto de Guairá to the presence of the Brazilian organized crime
gang First Capital Command (PCC).
Embassy requires employees to report travel to the departments of Alto Paraná,
Amambay, Canindeyú, San Pedro, and Concepción, due to high crime levels.
Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for Maximizing
Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?,The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
urban streets consist of cobblestones over dirt. Some streets in Asunción and
other large cities are paved. However, these streets often flood during heavy
rains, making them impassable. Potholes appear suddenly, and often remain unrepaired
for months. Nearly all rural roads are unpaved and can be impassable during the
rainy season (November-April). Road signs indicating hazards are lacking in
many areas. Avoid driving or traveling at night on highways outside urban areas
due to the number of vehicles without proper lights.
driving is a requirement, as traffic is extremely congested and unpredictable. Paraguayan
drivers only need minimal skills to obtain a driver's license, and driver’s
education prior to licensing is uncommon. Drivers routinely ignore traffic
regulations, and many drive without insurance coverage. Many traffic lights are
inoperable or difficult to see, and a large number of intersections have no
stop signs at all, making right-of-way unclear and passage dangerous.
highway maintenance is not equal to U.S. standards. The privately maintained
toll road between Caaguazú and Ciudad del Este and the routes between Asunción
and both Encarnación and Pedro Juan Caballero are generally in good condition.
The Trans-Chaco route is in fair condition except for the portion between
Mariscal Estigarribia and the Bolivian border, which is unpaved and at times
has experienced a marked increase in the use of motorcycles. Paraguayans can
obtain motorcycles cheaply and often with no safety training. Motorcycles pass
on both sides of vehicles, often in a very dangerous manner and sometimes on
sidewalks. Due in large part to a lack of enforcement of traffic and safety
regulations, most traffic deaths occur in accidents involving motorcycles. U.S.
citizens have been injured and killed in traffic accidents throughout
Paraguay. The Touring and Automobile
Club provides some roadside assistance to its members.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
transportation is readily available for urban and intercity travel, but safety
is a major concern. Buses vary in maintenance conditions and may not meet U.S.
safety standards. Public bus accidents occur. Many buses pass through high
crime areas and are susceptible to robbery.
Uber, and MUV services are available in most cities throughout Paraguay. Mobile
rideshare services are also available in the capital area. No passenger train
service exists. Bicycle travel may not be safe because of traffic and other
road hazards. The level of public and private driver training and safety
awareness does not reach minimum U.S. standards.
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Asunción as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Since 2008, persons claiming to be part of
the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) – an internal criminal group ostensibly
dedicated to a socialist revolution in Paraguay – have been active in the
departments of Concepción and northern San Pedro. The EPP is a relatively small
group, but often has local support. EPP activity consists largely of isolated
attacks against remote police and army posts, or against ranchers and peasants
accused of collaborating with Paraguayan security services. In 2019,
authorities attributed extortions, kidnappings, and murders in northern San
Pedro and southern Concepción to the EPP.
In April 2019, Armed Peasant Association (ACA,
an EPP offshoot) members temporarily held seven hostages in Concepción
department. The ACA burned two pickup trucks, two tractors, and a horse
cart. Before fleeing, the members railed against the production of genetically
modified soybeans and corn.
In July 2019, EPP members held 17 workers hostage
at a farm located in Amambay department. The EPP group waited for the
farm’s administrator to arrive, murdering him as soon as he stepped out of his
car. The majority of the EPP group allegedly included indigenous individuals
from nearby areas.
In October 2019, a bomb located in the back of
a pickup truck exploded as it was driving through a rural road in Concepción
department. The driver and the other three accompanying persons escaped unhurt.
ACA members claimed responsibility for the explosion.
2019, the Government of Paraguay continued to cooperate with the U.S. on
counterterrorism matters. The U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism
Assistance program, International Bureau of International Narcotics and Law
Enforcement Affairs, and the International Law Enforcement Academy in El
Salvador all have contributed to building Paraguay’s law enforcement
counterterrorism capacity. Paraguay continues to face challenges of ineffective
immigration, customs, and law enforcement controls along its porous borders,
particularly along the TBA. Illicit activities in the TBA remained potential
funding sources for terrorist organizations, most notably Hizb’allah.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Asunción as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests. Paraguay is a constitutional
democracy with a developing economy. International observers recognized general
and municipal elections in 2013, 2015, and 2018 as free and fair. The next
major election will be municipal elections in late 2020.
demonstrations are common. Land invasions, marches, and organized protests
occur. There are political protests, demonstrations, and roadblocks by civil
society groups, including peasant organizations, students, unions, and
government employees. Demonstrations are typically peaceful and coordinated
with authorities. However, there have been incidents of violence.
typically occur in the downtown area near Paraguayan government buildings and
near the Paraguayan presidential residence, situated directly across the street
from the U.S. Embassy. In Asunción, protestors generally gather in downtown
public squares and parks. Outside of the capital, protestors’ most common
tactic is to congregate on major roadways to block traffic and disrupt normal
traffic flow to Asunción or Ciudad del Este.
2019, demonstrations in Asunción and other population centers focused mainly on
corrupt public officials and impunity. Rural farmers also came to Asunción to
protest a lack of jobs, land, and housing.
locations where crowds have gathered to protest. Upon encountering a roadblock,
avoid going through it and either wait for the roadblock to end or find an
alternate route. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
coupled with a lack of access to employment, education, health care, shelter,
and sufficient land, hinders the ability of indigenous persons to progress
economically while maintaining their cultural identity. Insufficient police and
judicial protections from encroachments on indigenous lands often results in
conflict between indigenous communities and large landowners in rural areas,
which at times has led to violence.
is common. Paraguay’s rivers suffer from toxic dumping, as tanneries release
mercury and chromium into rivers and streams. Inadequate means for waste
disposal poses health risks for urban residents.
of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is an ongoing concern. Concerns remain
about inadequate protection against unfair commercial use of proprietary test
or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for agrochemical or
pharmaceutical products and the shortcomings in Paraguay’s patent regime.
U.S. and Paraguay signed an IPR Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2015,
under which Paraguay committed to take specific steps to improve its IPR
protection and enforcement environment. Additionally, the MOU created a
bilateral partnership, in which the U.S. supports Paraguay’s efforts to
strengthen the legal protection and enforcement of IPR. As a result of the MOU
and the commitments Paraguay assumed under the MOU, the U.S. Trade
Representative (USTR) removed Paraguay from the 2015 Special 301 Watch List
pursuant to an Out-of-Cycle Review.
Ciudad del Este, located in the TBA, has appeared on either the USTR’s Notorious
Markets List or Special 301 Report for over 15 years. Regional organized crime
groups are reportedly responsible for much of the counterfeit and
copyright-infringing goods sold in Ciudad del Este. The border crossing and
city have been the focus of U.S. and international attention as a hub for the
distribution of counterfeit and pirated products in the TBA region and beyond. With
weak border controls, there is extensive corruption and money-laundering
activity in Paraguay, especially in the TBA.
law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government
generally does not implement the law effectively. Officials engage frequently
in corrupt practices with impunity. Corruption in all branches and at all
levels of government remain widespread, with investigative journalists and NGOs
reporting on hundreds of cases of embezzlement, tax evasion, illicit
enrichment, breach of public confidence, falsifying documents, and criminal
association. Criminal cases typically spend several years in the courts. Under
a law that prohibits court cases from lasting longer than four years,
politicians and influential individuals convicted in lower courts routinely
avoid punishment by filing appeals and motions until reaching the statute of
limitation or by successfully requesting the removal or suspension of judges
and prosecutors working on their cases. Although indictments and convictions
for corruption of low- and mid-level public officials occur more frequently,
high-ranking public officials enjoy a high degree of impunity. In addition,
politicization and corruption are pervasive throughout the judicial branch,
particularly in the lower courts and regional offices, hampering the
institution’s effectiveness and undermining public trust.
Personal Identity Concerns
remains a serious problem. Domestic violence is widespread, and thousands of
women received treatment for injuries sustained in domestic altercations. In
many instances, victims asked prosecutors to drop cases against their attackers
due to fear of reprisal, allowing the crimes to go unpunished. Rape continues
to be a significant and pervasive problem, with many rapes going
unreported. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female
are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of
LGBTI+ events in Paraguay. NGOs have
reported police harassment and discrimination against LGBTI+ persons. According
to press and NGO reporting, during 2019, police officers beat, robbed, and
implicated transgender individuals as suspects in serious crimes, including
drug trafficking and armed robbery. In October, a court handed down a
conviction for the 2017 murder of a transgender person, marking the first
conviction in the country for a crime targeting a transgender victim. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental
disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision
of state services, and the government seeks to enforce these prohibitions.
Nonetheless, access to buildings, pedestrian paths, and transportation is
extremely difficult for persons with disabilities, as authorities rarely
enforce mandated accessibility requirements. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for travelers
departments of Alto Paraná, Amambay, Canindeyú, San Pedro, and Concepción
continue to suffer from violence associated with narcotic trafficking. Paraguay
is a transit country for cocaine, and the hemisphere’s second-largest producer
of marijuana. Narcotics traffickers use violence to settle matters between
rival groups; members of the Brazilian organized crime gang PCC operate in
Pedro Juan Caballero (Amambay), Salto de Guairá (Canindeyú), and Ciudad del
Este (Alto Paraná).
Department of Amambay is the most violent area of the country based on number
of homicides. The vast majority of the homicides committed in Amambay are
have been no U.S. citizens reported kidnapped since 2011.
kidnappings occur in Paraguay. Virtual kidnapping schemes typically involve an
individual or criminal organization who contact a victim via telephone and
demand payment for the return of a “kidnapped” family member or friend. While
no actual kidnapping has taken place, the callers often use co-conspirators to
convince their victims of the legitimacy of the threat. Most schemes use
various techniques to instill a sense of fear, panic, and urgency to force the
victim into making a hasty decision. In recent years, there has been an
increase in virtual kidnapping reports.
August 2017, the EPP claimed responsibility for the 2015 kidnapping of
Mennonite farmer Abraham Fehr in San Pedro Department. Despite the farmer’s
family paying the $500,000 ransom in November 2017, his captors did not release
him. In January 2018, the PNP, acting on clues left by alleged EPP elements,
found Fehr’s remains in a mass grave in the northern province of San Pedro
As of December 1, 2019, authorities believe
the Mariscal Lopez Army (EML, an EPP offshoot) continues to hold one Paraguayan
citizen hostage, who EML kidnapped in 2016.
experts suggest that most kidnappings go unreported. Rather, family members of
the victims manage them independently. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
emergency line in Paraguay is 911. The PNP suffers from a serious, ongoing lack
of resources and training. Although the 911 emergency response system is
operational, police response times vary and investigations rarely result in
successful apprehension. There have been credible reports that police have
collaborated with criminal elements. Due to low pay and lack of disciplinary
measures, corruption remains endemic within PNP ranks. The U.S. government
continues to assist the PNP and the Interior Ministry with equipment and
training, but progress is slow.
PNP serves as the police force for the entire country, though military elements
work alongside the PNP in EPP-affected areas, under the Joint Task Force (FTC)
command structure. The PNP has various specialized units including K9,
explosives disposal, and special operations. In the Asunción metropolitan area,
call +595 (21) 445-858 for local police headquarters. Download the State
Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
police demand a bribe during a traffic stop or other detention the, visitors
should refuse to pay.
medical emergencies in Asunción, call +595 (21) 204-800. Adequate medical
facilities, prescription and over-the-counter medications, supplies, and
services are available in Asunción. Elsewhere, these are limited or may not
exist. Medical care in public hospitals, especially outside of Asunción, is
generally below U.S. minimum standards of care. Hospital and clinic facilities
are typically substandard. Doctors and nurses typically do not possess minimum
levels of experience and training. A shortage of medical staff often leaves
clinics operating with unqualified personnel or insufficiently staffed. For
medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage
fever and chikungunya (Chik-v) are viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes
year-round. In 2019, there were more than 11,000 confirmed cases in Paraguay
resulting in nine deaths. The General Directorate of Health Surveillance noted
that most of these cases were from two departments: Central and Asunción.
Symptoms can include fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or
bone pain. There is no specific treatment for either; vaccines are still in the
Paraguayan health officials have also
confirmed Zika virus cases in Paraguay, though monitoring has not been
sufficient. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness communicable from a
pregnant woman to her fetus. Among other effects, there have been reports of a
serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy
outcomes in babies with mothers infected by Zika virus while pregnant.
to the presence of yellow fever in parts of Paraguay, the CDC recommends that
visitors obtain the yellow fever vaccination. Rabies and diarrheal diseases are
also present. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health
guidance for Paraguay.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
Medication, I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad
OSAC Country Council
Paraguay has a Country Council
that meets in Asunción. Interested private-sector security managers should
contact OSAC’s Latin America Team with
any questions or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
1776 Mariscal Lopez Avenue,
Switchboard: +595 (21) 213-715
After-hours Emergency: +(595)(21)
you travel, consider the following resources: