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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 05:20 PM


Paraguay: Back to Latin America's bad old days?

While the ouster of Paraguay’s president is a setback to the young democracy of the country, it shouldn’t be viewed as a repeat of Latin America’s history of coup d’états. The painful process of democratic maturity will continue, albeit slowly.

The hasty impeachment of Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo by the Congress on June 22 has brought back memories of the bad old days of Latin American history marked by coup d’états. This is the third overthrow of a democratically-elected president in the New Latin America, which had started its confident march on the path of democracy, seeking a new destiny in the twenty-first century. The previous cases were the ouster of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002 and Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. The difference in the case of Paraguay was the absence of two critical ingredients of a classic Latin American coup: military and the Big Brother from the north, the US. This one was a constitutional coup staged by an overwhelming majority of the elected representatives of both houses of the Congress. The lower house voted 76-1 and the senate 36-4.

The impeachment, however, is not surprising. It was being plotted from the very first day of Lugo’s assumption of office in 2008, after his historic victory over the mighty right-wing Colorado party which had ruled the country continuously in the previous sixty-one years. What was surprising was that the Colorado oligarchs had allowed Lugo, a leftist Bishop of the Poor, a political outsider and new comer, to win in the 2008 elections. Their overconfidence and underestimation of Lugo, coupled with the division within the party leadership, did them in.

The Colorado party is not just a political party. It is the strongest institution in Paraguay with a total stranglehold over the political and economic power system. Even the civil servants and diplomats are members of the party. The Colorados were therefore determined to recover power by any means and wanted to nip in the bud the unprecedented expectations raised among the poor people of Paraguay by the leftist Lugo, who promised to reform the system. Using their majority in the Congress to block his proposals, they didn’t let Lugo implement any of his progressive policies; they paralysed his administration by internal sabotaging with their loyal bureaucrats. Lugo simply did not have the political skills or a solid political party to deal with the ruthless Colorado machinery. In addition, his own Vice President Federico Franco – sworn in as President only a day after the coup – has been conspiring with the party to topple Lugo. Franco is the leader of the Liberal party, the second largest after Colorados. He seems to have made a deal with the Colorados, who have let him become president for one year, up until the next elections set for April 2013, when they expect him to cede power.

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By R. Viswanathan, Indian ambassador to Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina from October 2007 to May 2012.

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Reply Paraguay: Back to Latin America's bad old days? (Original post)
ocpagu Jun 2012 OP
bemildred Jun 2012 #1
Peace Patriot Jun 2012 #2

Response to ocpagu (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 05:32 PM

1. I largely agree.

The old order never goes willingly, but it goes.

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Response to ocpagu (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 12:50 AM

2. Nope, something smells about this analysis. I don't trust it at all.

Could be Indian business interests allied with the Paraguayan fascists (wealthy landowners and business people).

He says "no U.S. and no military" involved. ("...the absence of two critical ingredients of a classic Latin American coup: military and the Big Brother from the north, the U.S.". What is he basing this on? The military, for instance, never had a chance to become involved because Lugo abdicated immediately to avoid violence (his statement of his reason). The Paraguayan military has reason to oppose Lugo. Lugo opposes U.S. troops on the ground in Paraguay, and cooperation with the corrupt, failed, murderous U.S. "war on drugs" and the always-planning-wars Pentagon is key to the U.S. gravy train for cooperating militaries. We don't know that the Paraguayan military wasn't waiting in the wings for Lugo to oppose the coup and rally his supporters. (He is the most popular president in the region--and that's saying something, since some of his neighbors are also very popular. Morales, in Bolivia; Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Lula da Silva, in Brazil; Cristina Fernandez in Argentina--for instance.) The Colorado Party is tight with the military and utilized it for heinous oppression during the fascist dictatorship.

And what of the U.S on this coup.? The U.S. has numerous reasons to want to be rid of Lugo and it is notorious for acting in secret ways to serve its transglobal corporate masters and war profiteers. R. Viswanathan knows what the CIA has been up to in Paraguay? I don't believe it.

He leaves out Bolivia, where the Bush Junta was funding/organizing the white separatist insurrection against Evo Morales right out of the U.S. embassy. September 2008. A very suspicious omission from this article.

He gets a number of things quite wrong--or twists them in a peculiar way. For instance, he says that, 'He (Lugo) had annoyed Brazil by forcing them to pay more for the electricity they import from Paraguay and claimed it as one of his major achievements." Wow! Lula da Silva, president of Brazil supported that rise in price, and helped Lugo negotiate it, because Paraguay was getting screwed by the big power companies in Brazil.

Mr. Viswanathan is taking sides here, and seeing things from the perspective of the rich and powerful. He equates the big power companies WITH Brazil. ("He had annoyed Brazil...". No, Lugo didn't annoy "Brazil." His ally, Lula da Silva, spoke and acted FOR Brazil, as its president and exercising his judgement that it is in the interest of the Brazilian people to "raise all boats" in the region--to help the poorer countries. These big power companies' contracts were unjust. And the revenues from fair prices were being used to line the pockets of the rich and deprive poor Paraguayans of the most basic services (schools, health care). Lugo was involved, of course, and can certainly claim some of the credit, but he couldn't have done it without Lula's support. (And Lula's successor, Rouseff, who was Lula's chief of staff, is even more leftist than Lula.) This was a policy decision at the presidential level in Brazil.

So-o-o-o, we now know some of the foreign parties who may have been colluding with Paraguay's fascists--Brazil's energy giants. But not from anything Mr. Viswanathan tells us--rather from my knowing the history of those power contracts. He thinks Brazil = the rich and powerful. But Brazil is much bigger than that--it is a country of mostly poor people who have managed to elect two successive leftist, FDR-like governments to see to their interests, and da Silva/Rousseff did not think that Brazil's rich and powerful screwing Paraguay was in Brazil's interest.

Mr. Viswanathan calls this coup d'etat a "bump in the road." A "bump in the road!"--when Paraguay's most popular president, ever, is evicted from the office that the people of Paraguay elected him to, without investigations, without hearings, without public discussion, in a five-hour political junta, during which I think we can be sure that many members of the legislature were afraid.. The Colorado Party kills and tortures people! That is their legacy from the Stroessner dictatorship.

Is Viswanathan running for head of the IMF or what? Whose interests is HE serving in writing this article? That is the question that this article raises. And he is not that skillful a writer. He says once too often that this coup is a mere "setback" for "a young democracy." His patronizing tone is very like the tone that the IMP/World Bank takes with little countries that they want to rape and plunder. "Just a little weeny bit of austerity, peasants. You'll see it's good for you."


"While the ouster of Lugo is a setback to the young democracy of Paraguay and a disappointment to its masses, it should not be seen as repetition of history for Latin America as such. The region has irreversibly changed its paradigm and is set on the foundation of democracy. What happened in Paraguay is damage to the super structure and a bump in the road. It is part of the painful process of the democratic maturity in some countries of the region." --R. Viswanathan


They took the vomit "smilie" away or I'd use it.

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