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This past June 22, socialist Fernando Lugo, who was the Paraguayan President, was displaced by the Senate after this year’s chamber did an impeachment due to his apparently poor work. Thirty-nine senators voted for his displacement, four against and two remained neutral. Therefore, he also lost the backup from his own party deputies. Now, the question is whether or not this movement was legal.
Lugo, who was the man who finished with the 61 year mandate of the Colorado Party in Paraguay, did not have a pleasant term, since he was disputed since the beginning of his legislature. He followed a similar term as his Ecuador and Venezuela homologues, which was not well accepted by the Paraguayan politics caste. What politicians did not like was the fact that Lugo gave more rights to the Guarani population. The scandal of having a child during his term as a Catholic bishop also did not help Lugo’s reputation. The detonation took place on June 15, when 17 Paraguayans died in the eviction of a field that was taken by peasants.
Citizens reactions to Lugo’s removal was to go to the street to complain about this fact, which some saw as a coup d’etat. Around 10,000 Paraguayans went to the Vice president’s headquarters in order to protest. However, it is not just citizens who saw this chess move as illegal. Some countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela have also described Lugo’s removal as a coup d’etat. The reprisal did not take long to come: Paraguay was sent out off the Mercosur, the group that regulates Latin American’s market.
However, there are some voices that claim Lugo’s removal was constitutional. In fact, the Paraguayan Constitution guarantees that the president can be removed by the Senate. Therefore, it was a sovereign decision. According to Forbes journalist, Thor Halvorssen, “since there was no violence or coercion involved in the ousting of Lugo, it was not a coup d’état.” Halvorssen also reminds readers in his article that Paraguay’s constitution article 225 gives Congress the power to remove the President under certain circumstances. Then, on June 21, the Senate formally accused President Lugo for a poor performance of his duties, which led to Lugo’s removal.
Lugo’s dismissal process just took 48 hours. He called himself an “express coup d’etat.” He lost all of his support in a day and a half. However, it seems that his removal was being prepared since 3 years ago. A diplomatic cable from the United States revealed by Wikileaks says that Paraguayan right wing was conspiring and preparing this impeachment since long time ago.
Former president Lugo has recently been interviewed by the Bolivian newspaper “El Deber de Bolivia.” He said there that the impeachment that he went through could be compared to Jesus Christ’s judgment. “It would be presumptuous to compare myself with Jesus, but there is some similarity, right? I ended up not crucified, but following his teachings, I more or less went through to a similar process than he did, “said Lugo.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez threatened Paraguay with cutting their fuel supply, which represents 30% of the entire country’s supply. However, according to Petropar chief, Sergio Escobar, the Venezuelan company will not cut its regular shipments of fuel to Paraguay.
It is the second time in the last lustrum where a President was displaced by controversial means. First, it was Honduran President Celaya dismissal, which opened a dangerous record on history, since it captured the idea that citizen’s decisions are a lower priory compared to those from politicians. Now it was Paraguay’s turn.
There will be elections in Paraguay in April 2013. There were some rumors that said these could take place earlier, but the OEA has said that elections will take place in April, and that Federico Franco will remain as President until they take place.