Two soccer teams played for a spot in the semifinal of the Copa Libertadores of America on July 18th in Asunción, Paraguay: River Plate from Argentina and Libertad of Paraguay. Before the game was over, a small group of Argentine fans, whose team lost 3 to 1, attacked the local police, which could only turn and run, unable to control the fury that attacked them with small seat cushions.

The incapacity of the police to contain a small soccer stadium puts on display the fragility of the Paraguayan state and contrasts starkly with the same security forces that clash with the poor rural population who demand land. Some 100 rural activists have been killed by police forces, military, and para-police since the fall of dictator Alfredo Stroessner in 1989; hundreds have been hurt and more than 2,000 prosecuted.

Paraguay is a failed state according to Washington’s definition. It comprises one of the 50 states in the world that