Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza rejected a request yesterday to suspend Paraguay as a member state over the impeachment of former President Fernando Lugo. During an emergency meeting of the OAS Permanent Council in Washington DC, Insulza explained that Paraguay’s suspension would negatively affect the country politically and economically while doing little to strengthen democratic institutions.
Bolivia and Venezuela were among the 20 member countries to demand Paraguay’s suspension after Lugo was quickly removed from office by the Paraguayan Congress last month. Lugo called the impeachment a “parliamentary coup” and said the unpopularity of his social programs among legislators was responsible for his ouster. Questioning the democratic nature of the impeachment, regional organizations like Mercosur and UNASUR suspended Paraguay’s membership and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said his government would cut off fuel sales.
Insulza’s response to the episode was more tempered. Shortly after Lugo’s ouster, he recommended that the OAS Permanent Council send a mission to Paraguay to monitor the executive management of the current administration until the general elections in April 2013. The mission would “strengthen governance, to avoid new crises and observe respect for political guarantees,” Insulza said.
While bolstered by the OAS decision, Federico Franco, Paraguay’s new president, still faces the daunting task of repairing diplomatic relations damaged by Lugo’s removal.