American-backed Putsch in Paraguay

Roy Tov – June 24, 2012

“Legal but illegitimate” 

“Legal but illegitimate,” Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa summarized the parliamentarian putsch that last Friday, June 22, 2012, resulted in the impeachment of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo in a process that took just one day. The event has been condemned practically by all Latin American countries, most of them having declared that they will not recognize the new government of Federico Franco. Two governments, Argentina and Uruguay, have already withdrawn their ambassadors from Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital. Next week an emergency meeting of UNASUR, a political organization of South American countries, will take place in order to agree on sanctions on Paraguay. Oddly enough, the USA media is showing flawed data, and the American government is busy elsewhere. 

An Oligarchy-Run Society

While the putsch was taking place in the Paraguayan parliament, its beneficiary—Federico Franco, who was Vice President at the moment—found time to give an outrageous interview to the CNN. “Is it true that 2% of the Paraguayan people own 80% of the country’s lands?” The CNN reporter asked in what looked like a well-rehearsed fashion. “That is not true! 10% of the people own 80% of the land,” countered the soon to become president. I admired his capability to answer in such a fashion without laughing at the ridicule. Either way, reality is that Paraguay is an oligarchy-run country. One of the most painful reminders of that is the Ycuá Bolaños Supermarket fire, which in August 1, 2004, caused the death of 394 persons who were visiting the commercial complex, one of the largest in the country. Its astonishing death toll was the result that, when the fire broke out, doors within the complex were deliberately closed under the owners’ orders in order to prevent people from fleeing with merchandise without paying for it. Trapped inside, the clients burned to death. Juan Pío Paiva, his son, Víctor Daniel, and a security guard got what can be defined only as symbolical punishment for their mass-murder. Oligarchs are easily pardoned in Paraguay. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” said Shakespeare’s Marcellus. “Many things are rotten in Paraguay,” we can counter him today.

The mentioning of land-ownership by the new president to the CNN was not casual. The parliamentary putsch was initiated after an occupation of lands by landless farmers in Canindeyu, an area in the fertile northeastern part of the country ended in violent clashes with the police in June 15. Eleven farmers and six policemen died in the incident. Vice President Federico Franco began an accelerated impeachment process against the president. This procedure was done following the Constitution adopted by the state after the Stroessner military dictatorship (1954 to 1989) ended. On April 20, 2008, for the first time in 61 years, the Colorado Party (to which Stroessner belonged; it was the only legal party since 1947 until the end of the dictatorship) lost for the first time the presidential elections to an opposition candidate from the center-left, Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo. Following the successful impeachment, the former Vice President will run the country until the elections scheduled for April 2013. The militaristic Colorado party is expected then to return to power. Knowing that, makes the current lightning-fast putsch a bit clearer.       

CNN’s Partiality

The abovementioned CNN interview wasn’t the only strangeness in that network’s report of the putsch. Minutes after the impeachment, police shoot protesters in front of the parliament. The event was shown live by teleSUR, the Venezuelan news network; yet, it wasn’t mention by the CNN, at least not by its Spanish channel. The network minimized its reports on the shocked reactions of neighboring countries, that didn’t have time for diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis. The impeachment took place in a Friday afternoon; when everybody was preparing for a weekend. Next day, the Paraguayan police continued its violent suppression of the protests, this time by taking over the Paraguayan public television network. All reports of the events were suppressed; Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse became the only allowed speakers through that channel. They had no comments on the putsch. This was shown live by the Venezuelans; yet the CNN didn’t report that. Combine the no-reaction—at least no-condemnation—of the putsch by the American government with the fact that soon power in Paraguay will be handed to the militaristic party that was an important ally of the USA during Operation Condor and other events related to the Cold War, and one must seriously consider the option that this was an American-backed putsch, in the best fashion of the 20th century.

“Legal but illegitimate,” correctly summarized the event the Ecuadorian President. The presidential impeachment process that took place on Friday was announced on Thursday. The president was denied time to prepare his defense. He was allotted just two hours to defend himself. He let his lawyer speak, but denied the parliament the farce it requested by refusing to defend himself directly. The process was legal, but it mocked the Constitution. Not only due to its speed. The president was charged with incompetence mainly due to his treatment of the death of the landless farmers and policemen, an event that happened so fast, that only local authorities could be blamed. In the long time I am being forced to spend in South America, I have learned to recognize its denizens preoccupation with shape and not with content. They care about their university diplomas being pretty and having a large ink-stamp; but are oblivious to their education’s content. The result may be legal, but is worthless. Same thing applies here; the new Constitution’s fine print was enforced with completely disregard of justice, for the eternal glory of Washington’s puppeteers.


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