Sorry, folks, no Festive Left Friday entry this week. Your Aunt Bina is feeling more restive than festive tonight, because the shit has officially hit the fan in a certain landlocked South American country, famous for its maté and its wild and crazy soccer fans…and a certain popular leftist president who used to be a Catholic bishop, and who’s now in the fight of his political life:
The president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, announced that he will not resign, and that he will submit to a political trial, but asked for guarantees of a just and legitimate defence. He denounced that the will of the people “is being subjected to a pitiless attack” by sectors opposed to social change.
Everything appears to indicate that determined sectors intend to interrupt a historical democratic process just nine months shy of the next general elections, which are to take place on April 21, 2013.
The president was accused by the Chamber of Deputies of governing in a manner “inappropriate, negligent and irresponsible”, in a charge which seeks his dismissal, presented before the Senate.
The charge refers to the killing of 11 peasants and 6 police officers in an armed confrontation last Friday in Curuguaty, 250 northeast of the Paraguayan capital of Asunción, during the crackdown against an occupation of a ranch. The accusation also calls the Montevideo Protocol on Commitment to Democracy in Mercosur, popularly known as Ushuaia II, and signed by the four presidents of the Mercosur countries, Lugo among them, in the capital of Uruguay in December 2011, an “attack against the sovereignty of the Republic of Paraguay”.
The Ushuaia II protocol stipulates that “it shall be applied in the event of a rupture or menace to democratic order, a violation of constitutional order, or any situation that endangers the legitimate exercixe of power and the exercise of democratic principles”.
The charge against Lugo states that Ushuaia II has “the malicious purpose of obtaining a supposed support in its shameless march against the institutionality and the democratic processes of the Republic”, according to deputy Gustavo Cárdenas, who read out the accusation.
A mission of representatives of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will be present in Lugo’s political trial, with the objective of guaranteeing that the rules of democratic order will be followed.
The general secretary of UNASUR, Alí Rodríguez Araque of Venezuela, indicated in declarations to the media that “the decisions of the country (Paraguay) will be respected, because they are decisions of a sovereign nature.”
However, he warned that “once the process is over, we will give an opinion”.
Meanwhile, in declarations broadcast by Telesur, the presidents of Colombia and Ecuador gave their viewpoints.
“We will defend democracy, democratic principles and sovereign will, and this position is fixed, concrete, and non-negotiable,” said the Colombian, Juan Manuel Santos.
Rafael Correa (of Ecuador) said that “the measure of a political trial is legal”, but called the political basis of it “illegitimate”.
For his part, the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, assured that in Paraguay, “a coup d’état is brewing”.
Well, of course, Evo would say that, wouldn’t he? After all, he’s been the target of some pretty underhanded shit in Bolivia, when a certain balkanizing US “diplomat” (note the quotes) tried to foment a coup there, unsuccessfully trying to pit the so-called “Media Luna” (Half-Moon) of opposition provinces against the government in La Paz. There was even a foiled assassination plot in Santa Cruz, in which the assassins came out on the shit end of the stick. So Evo knows what a coup smells like from personal experience, and has little problem saying as much in regard to his neighbor-friend and Paraguayan counterpart, Lugo.
And similar things can also be said of El Ecuadorable, who also survived a coup attempt in the guise of a so-called police revolt, a lie which I debunked here two years ago. So he too would know shit when he smells it, and has no problem saying as much.
But what about UNASUR as a whole? What’s up with them? Well, how about this:
Ministers of the 12 member states of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the general secretary of the organization arrived in Asunción and immediately headed for the presidential residence, where they met with president Fernando Lugo, who will stand a political trial before the Paraguayan Congress.
The president stated that the decision of the Congress to place him on trial “is an express coup d’état” and blamed it on businessman Horacio Cartes, a presidential precandidate for the Colorado Party.
The diplomatic chiefs of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Paraguay’s partners in Mercosur, as well as those of Venezuela, Chile and Peru, were already present at the presidential residence in Asunción, and are currently awaiting the arrival of María Angela Holguín from Colombia, according to an official Paraguayan spokesperson.
At the meeting as well, was the general secretary of UNASUR, Alí Rodríguez of Venezuela.
The press was allowed access to film the meeting, in which various Paraguayan political leaders and the team of Lugo’s judicial advisors were also present.
The Paraguayan Congress decided today, and hours later initiated a judicial process against Lugo, who is accused of abuse of powers, among other things, over a confrontation between police and peasants which left 17 dead, during an eviction of landless peasants occupying a hacienda in Curuguaty on June 15.
Lugo maintains that the coup d’état was orchestrated on Wednesday night and early Thursday, during which time the parliamentarians agreed to stage a political trial without “a valid reason”. He blamed Cartes and conservative forces of the right as authors of the trial, which he called unconstitutional, with no respect for due process.
Here we get a little more backgrounder, and it becomes clear that this is a politically motivated “trial” (note the quotes, kiddies, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we need to put that word in ‘em. I do not think it means what the Paraguayan rightards think it means!)
In particular, I think we need to watch the movements of this Horacio Cartes fellow much more closely, since it’s he who started the proceedings, and he has clear political motivations for doing so. He cannot be called a disinterested democrat who cares much for the lives of campesinos OR the police. He’s a precandidate for the old Stroessner-era right-wing party, the Colorados, and it’s obvious that they want back what they think is rightfully theirs — namely, the presidency itself. This is a long-entrenched oligarchy we’re talking about here, folks. Democracy isn’t high on their list of priorities; after all, they’re the party of the old fascist dictator of Paraguay. Whereas Lugo, a popular democrat, actually ran for office because he was urged to do so by the people, and even gave up his position as a bishop for their sake. And, as a friend and ally of the most popular, progressive presidents in Latin America — most significantly Chavecito, Evo and El Ec — he was in a fair position to actually start implementing some real democratic reforms in Paraguay, on the model of those three countries, who have all improved their socioeconomic standings dramatically in co-operation with each other and with Cuba, through the ALBA.
This, then, is the basis of all those hogwash charges against Lugo. It’s very unlike the man popularly known as the People’s Bishop to turn the police in fascist style against, of all people, a bunch of poor campesinos looking for land and occupying a ranch in some godforsaken bumfuck outpost in northeastern Paraguay. Remember, this is the man whose political base is those same poor folks, whom he served tirelessly as both bishop and president. It stinks to high heaven that he should be charged with the crimes he is accused of…crimes which are, in fact, MUCH more in character for his Colorado opponents than they are for Lugo himself. And which I venture to predict will turn out to have been ordered by those same opponents, very conveniently, given the suspicious timing of this whole kangaroo court charade.
Lugo is being very brave here, maintaining his post while undergoing trial; it’s the mark of a man who is confident that he will be found innocent. That speaks well for him, and bodes ill for his enemies.
Watch this space, kiddies, it is gonna heat up fast here. And don’t forget what I told you about who really ordered that disastrous raid.
PS: Courtesy of my good friend Otto, FUCK.
PPS: OMG, would you look at the headlines at Contrainjerencia!
“Cristina: ‘Argentina won’t validate the coup in Paraguay’”
“Ecuador will not recognize the president imposed by the Congress of Paraguay”
“President Chávez: Venezuela will not recognize new government of Paraguay”
“Dilma proposes ‘the expulsion of Paraguay from Mercosur and UNASUR’”
There’s more…LOTS more. I’m gonna be busy translating these next few days, I can see that.
And if the putschists thought that they’d have an easy time of it, voting Lugo out almost unanimously, now they’re going to see that their shit has consequences. HEAVY ones. That one about Dilma is especially satisfying. When even Brazil is proposing economic sanctions and political isolation against a country as poor and stunted as Paraguay, you know LatAm fascism is no longer the cakewalk it used to be.