Paraguay impeaches President Fernando Lugo: reactions at home and abroad

Venezuela says it will cut off oil supplies. Others aren't being so hard line, writes guest blogger James Bosworth.

Jorge Adorno/REUTERS
Ousted Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo arrives at the Pais Solidario party for a meeting with ex-ministers of the government in Asuncion June 25. Lugo branded the country's new government illegitimate on Sunday and called for a return to democratic rule following his sudden impeachment on Friday.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

International

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff said that President Fernando Lugo's removal was undemocratic and [Paraguay] should face the appropriate diplomatic responses. Brazil will pull its ambassador to Paraguay and will vote to apply diplomatic sanctions at international organizations.
 
At the same time, Brazil has signaled that their reaction will remain diplomatic and not be harsher. An adviser to President Rousseff said that Brazil does not have the policy goal of reversing the decision of the Paraguayan Congress or otherwise interfering in Paraguay's domestic politics. This indicates that economic sanctions are probably off the table.
 
Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay announced that interim President Franco would not be invited to the Mercosur meeting in Argentina this week and Paraguay will be suspended as an acting member. Former President Lugo will be invited. Franco will likely try to send his foreign minister as a representative. It's not clear what economic impact the Mercosur announcement might have.

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Venezuela, on top of pulling its ambassador, announced it was cutting oil deliveries to Paraguay. That is the only serious economic sanction I found against the country.
 
Argentina announced [it was] recalling its ambassador from Paraguay. This was amusing because Argentina didn't actually have an ambassador in Paraguay to remove; their previous ambassador left two months ago and was not replaced. Oops.
 
As expected, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua will not recognize the new government in Paraguay. El Salvador also said it would not recognize the Franco government.
 
Several countries, including Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Peru, recalled their ambassadors for consultations but have not yet announced whether or not they will recognize the new government.
 
Chilean President Piñera is facing both domestic and foreign pressure to take back an early statement that appeared to recognize Franco and the impeachment process.
 
Germany, Spain, Canada, and the Vatican announced they will recognize the government of President Franco. The UK appears likely to announce their support as well.
 
The US ambassador met with Franco over the weekend, but I haven't seen an official statement about the US position yet.

Domestic

Former President Lugo gave an interview in which he called his ouster a "congressional coup." More interestingly, he said he would set up some form of a shadow cabinet to work to rebuild democracy in the country.
 
Interim President Franco said that foreign policy is his top priority, with a goal to restore Paraguay's reputation. Franco indicated he would try to obtain Lugo's support.
 
The main public television station in Asuncion has become a major rallying point for "anti-coup" protesters who claim the station was censored following the removal of Lugo. Franco says it was all a misunderstanding. The protesters see it as censorship under an undemocratic government.
 
Various groups of campesinos and landless farmers have called for Lugo to be reinstated. Among the issues to watch are how those protests affect rural areas. More tensions over land seizures could hit Franco's public image.

– James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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