FIAN demands return to democratic rule in Paraguay
In light of the grave political incidents that have occurred in Paraguay and have led to the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo, who had been elected in free democratic elections in April 2008, FIAN condemns the so-called political trial of President Lugo, denies the legitimacy of the current government and supports those who, faced with this situation, are demanding the fulfilment of international agreements violated by those who now hold the State power.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012, by HRH Oslo based on Fian International infromation
Paraguay's senate has voted to remove President Fernando Lugo from office in an impeachment trial that plunged the South American country into a crisis. After a five-hour trial, 39 senators voted to dismiss Lugo, while four senators voted against and two were absent.
Based on the decision, Lugo is to be replaced by Vice President Federico Franco of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party. Crowds of pro-Lugo protesters took to the streets condemning the impeachment trial and expressing support for the president. Police in anti-riot gear drove them back on horseback and by using water cannon.
Paraguay's lower house of Congress voted to impeach Lugo, the senate tried him on five charges of malfeasance in office, including an alleged role in a deadly confrontation between police and landless farmers that left 17 dead.
The impeachment motion accused Lugo of poor performance over a forced land eviction earlier this month. Seven police officers and at least nine landless peasant farmers were killed in a shootout. The farmers were part of a group occupying land owned by a politician from the right-wing Colorado Party who claimed the occupiers were armed and trained by leftist groups aided by Lugo.
Latin American countries denounced impeachment
Latin American countries have expressed concern at the ouster of Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo, with leaders of three countries saying they will not recognise its new government. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, Ecuador President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, 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 public statement that Argentina 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. His first two appointments were Interior Minister Carmelo Caballero, who will be tasked with maintaining public order in this landlocked country, and Foreign Minister Jose Felix Fernandez, who will immediately hit the road to try to appease fellow members of the Mercosur and Unasur regional trade blocs. "Our foreign minister will go to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to meet with authorities and explain to them that there was no break with democracy here. The transition of power through political trial is established in the national constitution", Franco said.
Political divisions within Paraguay
The president was also tried on four other accusations. They include allegations that he improperly allowed leftist parties to hold a political meeting in an army base in 2009; that he allowed about 3,000 squatters to illegally invade a large Brazilian-owned soybean farm; that his government failed to capture members of a guerrilla group, the Paraguayan People's Army, which carries out extortion kidnappings and occasional attacks on police; and that he signed an international protocol without properly submitting it to Congress for approval. The trial mark appeared to be a dramatic demise for the once-popular leader who stepped down as the Catholic "bishop of the poor'' to run for the presidency amid a leftward swing in South America. Lugo's relationship with Franco and the moderate Authentic Radical Liberal Party quickly deteriorated after he was elected in 2008 with their support.
Lugo’s partners were upset after he gave a majority of Cabinet ministry posts to leftist allies, and handed a minority to the moderates. Conflicts also developed as leftist groups of landless farmers began to invade large soybean and cattle farms, trying to force the government to expropriate them. Lugo's government did not have enough funds to pay compensation to farm owners, and the land seizures upset politicians who previously supported the president.
Background: from priest to president
Lugo, known as the 'bishop of the poor' after he abandoned the priesthood for politics, was elected in 2008, ending 61 years of rule by the Colorado Party. When he came to power he promised to end corruption and give land to some 87,000 landless families in a country where 80 per cent of land is owned by a tiny fraction of the population. Lugo has set up an alternative government and vowed to send a representative to this week's summit of the Mercosur trade bloc in Argentina. Lugo has also been boosted by an outcry among leaders across South America who have condemned his dismissal and suspended Paraguay from Mercosur for the summit.
Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's foreign minister, who travelled to Paraguay ahead of the vote as part of a delegation from the UNASUR regional bloc, denounced it as a "new type of coup".
HRH Oslo based on Fian International infromation