Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Paraguay: coup by impeachment?

That what it seems to be, a similar event to the ouster of the government in Honduras in 2009, in which Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo was impeached and removed from office on the charge that he had performed his Presidential duties badly. The real political conflict grows from Lugo's partisanship on behalf of poor farmers demanding land reform against landowners in a country where the concentration of land ownership is extreme.

Aljazeera English's Inside Story Americas feature reports on the situation in Paraguay: Impeachment or political coup? 06/25/2012:

Aljazeera also reports on it in Latin American leaders reject Paraguay 'coup' 06/24/2012:

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, Ecuador President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday said they would not recognise the government of newly-installed leader Frederico Franco, who was sworn in by the same senate which, minutes before, had voted out Lugo.

Argentina's foreign ministry said in a statement later on Saturday that it was withdrawing its ambassador to Paraguay, while Brazil said it was calling in its ambassador to Paraguay for consultations over the impeachment, adding democracy is essential for regional integration.

Federico Franco, the Paraguay's newly sworn-in president, has reached out to Latin American leaders to minimise diplomatic fallout and keep his country from becoming a regional pariah.
Natalia Ruiz Diaz reports for Inter Press Service, Pressure from the Region Could Be Decisive in Paraguay’s Crisis 06/25/2012:

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay called their ambassadors home for consultations, and the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) trade bloc decided not to invite the new Paraguayan government to the Jun. 28-29 summit in the Argentine province of Mendoza.

Franco complained that the neighbouring countries had gone too far, and argued that the impeachment procedure was carried out in accordance with the constitution.

Lugo, a moderate leftist, was impeached on five charges of malfeasance in office, in the wake of a deadly clash between landless farmers and police when the former were being evicted from land that they had occupied. Six police and 11 peasants were killed in the incident.

Organisation of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and many other leaders in the region said the impeachment trial, in which Lugo was given just two hours to defend himself, violated due process.

The five charges were that Lugo was politically and criminally responsible for the bloody Jun. 15 clash in which 17 people died in Curuguaty in northeastern Paraguay; that he signed, without consulting Congress, a Mercosur democracy clause that allegedly restricts national sovereignty; that he failed to curb growing insecurity and crime; that he instigated and facilitated occupations of land; and that he held a political rally in a military barracks.
Mark Weisbrot asks What will Washington do about Fernando Lugo's ouster in Paraguay? Guardian 06/22/2012:

The politics of the situation are clear enough. Paraguay was controlled for 61 years by the rightwing Colorado party. For most of this time (1947-1989), the country was ruled by dictatorship. President Lugo, a former Catholic bishop from the tradition of liberation theology who had fought for the rights of the poor, was elected in 2008, but did not win majority backing in the Congress. He put together a coalition government, but the right – including the media – has never really accepted his presidency. ...

Lugo's election was one of many across South America – Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador – in which left governments were elected over the past 14 years, changing the political geography of the hemisphere. With that, came increasing political unity on regional issues – especially in confronting the United States, which had previously prevented left governments from coming to power or governing.
Daniela Desantis and Guido Nejamkis, Paraguay under pressure from neighbors after President Lugo ousted MSNBC/Reuters 6/24/2012:

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has called the move a coup and warned that South American trade bloc Mercosur could take measures against Paraguay. In theory, that could include suspension from the group, which also brings together Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Brazil on Saturday called its ambassador in Paraguay home for consultations. It "condemned" Lugo's removal because he was not able to defend himself properly, "compromising a fundamental pillar of democracy."

Brazil is Paraguay's top trading partner and Latin America's biggest economy. Its stance will likely carry the most weight but it says it will seek consensus within the UNASUR group of South American nations rather than act unilaterally.

Sergio León in La derecha paraguaya conspira contra Lugo desde 2009 Público 25.06.2012 describes how the entrenched Colorado Party had been looking for an excuse to oust Lugo practically from the day he was elected.

A near-term resolution of the conflict doesn't appear likely at the moment. Lugo is calling for peaceful demonstrations on his behalf. But he and his supporters don't seem to hold out much hope that the Parliament will reverse its decision. (Lugo responsabilizó a Franco por las eventuales sanciones contra Paraguay Página 12 27.06.2012)

Lugo was inaugurated as President August 15, 2008. Following are videos of his swearing-in and his inaugural address, including a portion in the native guaraní language.

El juramento de Fernando Lugo:

Lugo discurso 2:

Lugo discurso 3:

Lugo discurso en guaraní:

As this report from the time notes, Lugo usará contra corruptos réplica de la espada de Simón Bolívar que le regaló Chávez Última Hora (Paraguay) 16.08.2012, Lugo came to office promising to "luchar contra los que robaron al pueblo" ("to fight again those who rob the people"). Apparently he took that task a bit too seriously for the liking of the Paraguayan One Percent.

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