World

Paraguay paralyzed by national strike against president's privatization plan

  • A general strike, the first in 20 years, has left the arterial thoroughfare Eusebio Ayala Avenue empty in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Workers, farmers, teachers and students united seeking a variety of demands from the Horacio Cartes government that include price control for basic foods, free, quality education, a raise in minimum wage, agrarian reform and an end to violence against small farmers. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

    A general strike, the first in 20 years, has left the arterial thoroughfare Eusebio Ayala Avenue empty in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Workers, farmers, teachers and students united seeking a variety of demands from the Horacio Cartes government that include price control for basic foods, free, quality education, a raise in minimum wage, agrarian reform and an end to violence against small farmers. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)  (The Associated Press)

  • The glass from a balcony, reflects a mirror image of marchers in a general strike, the first in 20 years, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Workers, farmers, teachers and students united seeking a variety of demands from the Horacio Cartes government that include price control for basic foods, free, quality education, a raise in minimum wage, agrarian reform and an end to violence against small farmers. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

    The glass from a balcony, reflects a mirror image of marchers in a general strike, the first in 20 years, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Workers, farmers, teachers and students united seeking a variety of demands from the Horacio Cartes government that include price control for basic foods, free, quality education, a raise in minimum wage, agrarian reform and an end to violence against small farmers. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of Paraguay's National Farmers Federation gather for a meeting during a general strike, the first in 20 years, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Workers, farmers, teachers and students united seeking a variety of demands from the Horacio Cartes government that include price control for basic foods, free, quality education, a raise in minimum wage, agrarian reform and an end to violence against small farmers. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

    Members of Paraguay's National Farmers Federation gather for a meeting during a general strike, the first in 20 years, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Workers, farmers, teachers and students united seeking a variety of demands from the Horacio Cartes government that include price control for basic foods, free, quality education, a raise in minimum wage, agrarian reform and an end to violence against small farmers. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)  (The Associated Press)

A nationwide strike against the privatization plans of President Horacio Cartes has paralyzed much of Paraguay's economy and society.

Union leader Aldo Snead says Wednesday's strike stopped bus and taxi service and closed schools and most businesses. It also left hospitals largely unstaffed across the South American country.

The unions want Cartes to roll back a law enabling private companies to invest in government infrastructure in exchange for owning concessions and charging fees.

Cartes acknowledged that Paraguay's workers have legitimate historic complaints, but has showed no signs of backing down.

As crowds of strikers marched past closed storefronts, the president was huddling with his armed forces leaders.