Today in Frightful Protest Tactics


 A woman in Paraguay has climbed onto a wooden cross and had nails pounded through her hands, joining five men in a crucifixion protest that has already lasted 20 days.

Bus driver Juan Villalba is leading the demonstration to protest a series of layoffs of union organizers at the Vanguardia bus company serving the nation’s capital.

Villalba said his wife, Maria Concepcion Candia, joined the five others on Wednesday out of solidarity. He says eight drivers were fired after asking that for overtime pay, medical insurance and state pension contributions.

This isn’t the first time crucifixion has been used in protests in Paraguay. Landless citizens used the tactic in 2009 to bring attention to the lack of social programs for Paraguay’s landless poor, while another protest in 2004 included a man crucifying himself in protest against a government crackdown on public transit companies. The symbolism seems obvious,and it’s certainly effective at gaining attention, but sadly, the articles and stories rarely include the protesters’ own explanations of why that tactic over others, and its relative success or failure is likewise unclear. Still, given the physical disfigurement and what I can only assume must be rather severe pain, it’s a tactic I personally don’t understand, even while I don’t begrudge or belittle those who use it; only they can know if it was successful or/and worth it at the end.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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