Paraguay isolated over president's ouster
The trade group Mercosur suspended Paraguay's membership after Fernando Lugo was impeached last week, though it stopped short of sanctions. Paraguay's absence has paved the way for Venezuela to be admitted.
Bueno Aires, Argentina
South American heads of state dashed the hopes that Paraguay's president, ousted in a fast-track impeachment last week, will be reinstated as the country's chief executive.Skip to next paragraph
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While two regional groups on Friday unanimously condemned a lack of democracy in Paraguay after Fernando Lugo was removed from office in a matter of hours, and they banned the country from regional forums until new presidential elections are held next year, they failed to impose economic sanctions on Paraguay, giving the architects of Mr. Lugo's ouster little incentive to backtrack.
Defending the decision, Buenos Aires-based political scientist Atilio Boron says it was the correct move. “The suspension leaves Paraguay on the margin of the legislative and executive bodies within Mercosur and Unasur,” he explains. “Thankfully the presidents decided against economic sanctions. The aim isn’t to punish all Paraguayans.”
In special meetings of the trade bloc Mercosur and the political bloc Unasur, in Mendoza, Argentina, Friday, leaders from across the region revoked Paraguay's membership from both bodies until presidential elections next year.
Last week’s impeachment process in Paraguay – which many congressmen and analysts in the country have supported as part of a legal process enshrined in the Constitution to tackle a president “performing poorly" – was widely condemned across political spectrum, from Bolivia's Evo Morales to Chile's right-leaning Sebastián Piñera. Many commentators referred to it as an institutional coup.
But it has been the left-leaning leaders of South America, headed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, that have most vociferously condemned the events in Paraguay, rankling Paraguayan leaders. Now Venezuela, which had been agitating to join Mercosur - the trade grouping that comprises Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and, until yesterday, Paraguay – has been invited in. The proposal had been repeatedly blocked by Paraguay's right-leaning parliament. Paraguay’s suspension from the group cleared the way for the oil-rich nation’s fast-track membership by the end of next month.