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PARAGUAY/ Media perplexity envelops the impeachment of President Lugo

Confusion surrounds the dismissal of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo. Professor MARIO RAMOS-REYES discusses the situation, the constitutionality of the impeachment and its consequences.

Former President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo Former President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo

Tensions continue in Paraguay after the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo on June 22. Currently the conflict surrounds Paraguay’s suspension from the Mercosur trade bloc because other South American countries, including Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba consider the impeachment to be unconstitutional. Former President Lugo also protests the impeachment, calling it a “coup” and asking for a return to democracy in the country. Ilsussidiario.net contacted Mario Ramos-Reyes, a diplomat, Professor of Philosophy and expert on Latin American law, for his opinion on the situation in his home country.

In your opinion, could the dismissal of Fernando Lugo Mendez be considered a coup or was it according to the Paraguayan Constitution?

I do not share the view that Lugo’s dismissal was a coup d’état. Such a "coup" did not occur, as surprising as that may sound, particularly after the emotional and ideological reaction of some media, and unfortunately of President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, and, above all, President Chavez of Venezuela and Correa from Ecuador. It should be pointed out that a delegation of Foreign Affairs ministers came to Asuncion before the impeachment process began, and according to some reports given recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chavez, Maduro, had even asked the Paraguayan Armed Forces of Paraguay to lead a coup to “defend President Lugo.” The Paraguayan Constitution under article 225 detailed the impeachment procedure and former President Lugo voluntarily submitted to the procedure, and said he would fully accept whatever the outcome of the procedure was. Lugo’s own defense lawyer, Dr. Adolfo Ferreiro, said that the impeachment was legal and in accordance with the rule of the Constitution.

What are the real reasons for this dismissal?

All but one of his deputies voted to remove Lugo, as well as all the Senators except four. He lost all support from Congress. There was no one reason but many and some of them were formulated in the accusation of the impeachment. But what made Lugo’s administration unsustainable was the rising tide of insecurity carried out by political organizations and parties aligned with his leadership, especially a group who call themselves "Liga de Carperos", which led a confrontation where this group -- armed illegally -- resisted the eviction of a rural estate. Seven policeman were killed, as well as eleven peasants, but none of the instigators were apprehended (they are now fugitives).

Then what happened?