Paraguay: Lugo denounces “a coup against democracy”

25 June 2012 by Cristiano Morsolin


National political sectors and South American denounced on Friday actions against President of Paraguay, Mr. Fernando Lugo as a coup gestated on the basis of legal formalities.

The Liberal Party member took the oath one day after the House impeachment request against Lugo.
The case against Lugo took effect six days after the death of 17 people in a gun battle between police and farmers during the attempted eviction of a forest reserve in Curuguaty.

“Today is not Lugo who receives a coup, not Lugo who is removed from power: it is Paraguayan history, its democracy which has been deeply hurt. The basic principle of defence was transgressed in a cowardly and treacherous manner. I hope that the people who did so are conscious of the seriousness of their acts“Lugo stated minutes before his successor was taking the oath of office in Congress.

The new Paraguayan president Federico Franco, who took power after the dismissal by the Congress of Fernando Lugo, will face from the beginning of his management criticism at national and international levels.

Social organizations, especially peasant organizations, have expressed their rejection to the change of the Executive and staged protests on Friday night.

The Paraguayan Senate voted 39-4 Friday to dismiss Lugo a little more than a year before his five-year term was to end, and Franco took the oath of office soon after.

Lugo said earlier Sunday that he planned to attend the summit and would even hand over the rotating presidency of Mercosur to Peru next week, months before it is due to switch in November. ’I will not collaborate with Franco’s government because it is bogus. It has no legitimacy,’ Lugo said. Earlier he denounced his ouster as a ’parliamentary coup.’ Two of his Cabinet ministers also announced the establishment of an alternative continuation government to attend to matters of state Monday. ’President Lugo will be with his ministers to take decisions and then inform what those determinations were,’ said Augusto Dos Santos, Lugo’s minister of social communication [1].

Lugo’s ouster drew swift condemnation around Latin America from leaders who called it a de facto coup, and several presidents said they would seek Paraguay’s expulsion from regional groups.

’It’s a travesty of justice and an affront to the rule of law to remove a president in 24 hours, with no guarantees Guarantees Acts that provide a creditor with security in complement to the debtor’s commitment. A distinction is made between real guarantees (lien, pledge, mortgage, prior charge) and personal guarantees (surety, aval, letter of intent, independent guarantee). to defend himself,’ the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Santiago Canton, told a press conference.

The government of Ecuador will not recognize another government in Paraguay; in similar terms spoke the authorities of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.

A statement from the Spanish foreign ministry said: ’Spain defends full respect for democratic institutions and the state of law and trusts that Paraguay, in respect for its constitution and international commitments, will manage to handle this political crisis and safeguard the peaceful coexistence of the Paraguayan people.’

The European United Left/Nordic Green Left Group in the European Parliament strongly rejects the attempt by conservative forces of the Parliament of Paraguay to overthrow the democratically elected President Fernando Lugo on 22.06.2012. 

Gabi Zimmer, the President of the group, said: ’From Europe, we fully support the people of Paraguay who fought for democracy after the period of dictatorship, who elected a President with a programme for social justice and democracy, and who is now defending its right to govern the country. We utterly condemn the violence used by police forces, and we approve the decision of President Lugo to ask for the resignation of the Internal Affairs Minister. However, this difficult local conflict, - provoked by conservative forces which are using violent methods on a daily basis -, may not be used as a pretext for a putsch.’  

MEP Jürgen Klute, member of the European Parliament Delegation for the relations with Mercosur, asked the EU to take a very clear position against the coup. ’After Venezuela, Ecuador and Honduras, I ask the EU to strongly condemn this new attempted coup against another progressive Latin American government. We have seen the conservative majority of the Paraguayan parliament working for years to destabilize President Lugo ’s government, blocking his legislative initiatives in favor of social justice. This is also the only Parliament in the region that opposed the entrance of Venezuela to Mercosur. Extreme conservative forces are still very active in Paraguay and throughout the Latin American continent, but the decision of the people of Paraguay to give a mandate to President Lugo for more social justice must be respected’ [2].

President of Bolivia Evo Morales expressed today his strongest condemnation of the attempted parliamentary coup brewing in the Paraguayan Congress against President Fernando Lugo.
Morales said that the decision by the Paraguayan Congress is a right-wing strategy aimed at toppling Lugo and checking the political process he has begun in favor of the poorest and most excluded in that country, the landless indigenous people.

He urged the indigenous and social movements in Latin America to defend the democratic process in Paraguay and defend President Lugo, according to a press release issued from the Government Palace in Bolivia [3].

According to the noted Paraguayan human rights activist Martín Almada, “Lugo had to take a step back and accept people from the Colorado Party. It was an imposition by the more reactionary groups, leaving a sector of the campesinos dissatisfied with the president; this is true. And at the same time there are other campesinos who still have confidence in him and support him, albeit as a lesser evil, because if he falls now without completing his mandate, which ends in 2013, it will be a victory for conservative forces,” said Martín Almada, who believes that a plan to destabilize democracy is in progress. The clash provoked a political tsunami in Paraguay, with unforeseen repercussions to come over the fate of the first government without links to the Stroessner regime since the end of the dictatorship. It is big landowners who have been particularly keen on destabilizing the Lugo government: ’This murder of campesinos [seized upon by the Colorado Party as a pretext for the impeachment] happened as a result of a process of police violence instigated by big landowners discontent with President Lugo.’

Atilio Boron, political scientist and sociologist based in Argentina and he was the former Executive Secretary of the Latin American Council on Social Sciences CLACSO; 1997-2006), has some analysis on why was Lugo removed. The massacre of Curuguaty (the pretext of the impeachment) was a set up of the oligarchy. Lugo failed to not consolidate the mass movement that had him elected and gestured once and again towards compromise with the Reaction. Consolidation of the extractionist (neo-colonial) economy led by US multinational Monsanto, which were already pressuring the Lugo government to yield Yield The income return on an investment. This refers to the interest or dividends received from a security and is usually expressed annually as a percentage based on the investment’s cost, its current market value or its face value. unconditionally to their demands. Agitation by the Agrarian Capitalist Sydicate, the UGP, leading to the massacre of Curuguaty and a tractor march planned for June 25. An internal set-up within the police leading to the deaths of six agents and, subsequently, to the massacre of a dozen landless peasants blamed for those deaths. Among those dead agents was the brother of the chief of presidential security, Lt. Colonel Alcides Lovera, a very direct message to Lugo and those loyal to him within the Police and Army. The fact that the massacre happened near the border with Brazil may be a message to the wider Latin American region by ’The Embassy’ [4].

On April 10, 2008 Paraguay elected a government with a clear progressive orientation and the support of many social movements [5] but a parliament with a clear conservative orientation.

Lugo was elected in a Paraguay with growing inequality: 2 percent of the population controlled over 77 percent of the fertile land while small farmers, about 40 percent of the population, owned merely 5 percent of all arable farmland.

Also for key workers in the country, namely electricity production, was the possibility of stopping the privatization of the important water and electricity utilities.

The struggle for national sovereignty has made important advances, especially in regard to Paraguay’s rights to the electrical energy produced in both bi-national dams: this is the important work of Canese Mercedes, actually Vice Minister of Energy [6].

In the political field, Guasú Front (which was the organization that supported Lugo in 2008 and made him winner of the elections with the leadership of Ricardo Canese), said they will not recognized the Franco government and predicted that they will express their disapproval in actions throughout the country.

The creation of a Front for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) based in the Frente Guasú is a step in the right direction.



Footnotes

[1Fernando Lugo: Congresistas “han destituido la democracia” de Paraguay, 24.06.2012 - http://www.lanacion.com.py/articulo/77780-fernando-lugo-congresistas-han-destituido-la-democracia-de-paraguay.html

[2El Grupo GUE-NGL del Parlamento Europeo rechaza firmemente el intento para derrocar al presidente de Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, Cadtm, 22.06.2012 - http://www.cadtm.org/Paraguay-Parlamento-Europeo-y

[5Morsolin, Gobierno Lugo reconoce participación protagónica de los movimientos sociales, Cetri, 27.2.2009 - http://www.cetri.be/spip.php?article1081&lang=es

[6Morsolin, paraguay logra histórico acuerdo conBrasil sobre Itaipu, CADTM, 20.02.2012http://www.cadtm.org/Paraguay-logra-historico-acuerdo

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