Paraguay condemened for ‘coup’

LEFT OUT::The country’s isolation is deepening as several of its neighbors bar it from a trade summit to show their disapproval of its new government


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 - Page 7

Paraguay’s new president was barred on Sunday from participating in a summit of South American leaders this week, deepening the country’s isolation over the ouster of his predecessor Fernando Lugo.

The Argentine foreign ministry said the move was adopted by the other members and associate states of Mercosur, a South American trading bloc that is scheduled to meet on Thursday and Friday in the Argentine city of Mendoza.

The statement expressed the group’s “most energetic condemnation of the rupture of the democratic order that occurred in the Republic of Paraguay, for not having respected due process.”

The summit had loomed as a key test for Paraguayan President Federico Franco, who’s government has so far failed to gain international recognition.

Lugo told reporters earlier on Sunday that he planned to go to the summit, calling his sudden impeachment and ouster by a Paraguayan Senate vote on Friday a “parliamentary coup d’etat.”

Franco’s government “is a false government,” Lugo added. “The public does not accept a government that has broken the institution of the republic. You cannot collaborate with a government that its people do not consider legitimate.”

About 2,000 people protested against the new government in front of the studios of state-run TV Publica in central Asuncion.

The Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, also was preparing to hold a meeting in Lima, Peru, in the coming days to discuss the situation in Paraguay, which currently holds the presidency of the regional grouping.

Lugo said he had communicated with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, whose country is next in line to be president of the group.

“We are going to move up that transfer [of the UNASUR presidency] ... also for next week,” he added.

Lugo was hauled before the Senate on Friday to face charges that he had poorly managed a land dispute that resulted in an armed clash on June 15 between police and squatters. Six police officers and 11 landless peasants were killed when police tried to evict the squatters from a plot of land owned by one of Lugo’s opponents.

The Paraguayan Senate voted 39 to 4 on Friday to impeach Lugo, who initially accepted the verdict and stepped down.

Oil-rich Venezuela, whose membership of Mercosur has been blocked by Paraguay, recalled its ambassador to Asuncion and halted oil shipments over the move, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying he would do nothing to support “this coup.”

Argentina, which has condemned the move as a thinly veiled “coup,” has also pulled its ambassador from the country, as has Ecuador, while Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay said they were recalling their envoys for consultations.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that at the UNASUR summit his country would propose a return to “democratic order” in Paraguay.

However, a foreign policy advisor to the Brazilian government, Marco Aurelio Garcia, told the state-run Agencia Brasil that neither Brazil nor the other Mercosur states would intervene in Paraguay’s internal affairs.

Garcia said it was time “to let the crisis in Paraguay decant to see how it comes out.”