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Paraguay’s upper house voted this week to expel one of the few opposition voices in the country’s political scene, sparking protests and concerns about the state of democracy in the South American nation, Reuters reported.

Lawmakers approved the dismissal of Senator Kattya Gonzales from the center-left National Meeting Party for the “misuse of influence” while in office. Senators accused her of administrative misconduct relating to three state officials she supervised.

She will be replaced by her deputy.

The left-leaning lawmaker is one of the few critics of the ruling right-wing Colorado Party that has dominated Paraguay’s politics for more than 70 years. She has called out rampant corruption and been vocal about the tightening grip of organized crime over the country.

Gonzales has not commented on the dismissal, but the move prompted small demonstrations outside the legislative building in the capital Asuncion. Protesters said her expulsion signaled a step back toward Paraguay’s dictatorship past.

The Colorado party has a majority in both houses of parliament, holds the presidency and governs 15 of the 17 state governments following last year’s elections.

During the 2023 elections, Gonzales was the fourth biggest vote-getter, garnering public support for directly addressing lawmakers suspected of wrongdoing.

Over the weekend, she began a hunger strike in protest against President Santiago Peña’s initiative to change the constitution to allow for his reelection.

The current constitution limits the president to a single five-year term.

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