Parliamentary Coup in Paraguay
Carlos Pereyra MELE
In the last couple of days, some of my colleagues have been arguing about the coup in Paraguay Republic, and they stated as follows, M. Riorda said: “Political Science has today included a new and pitiful category: “Parliamentary Coup”. Another speaker, D. Zovatto Garetto would describe it: If collective defense mechanisms of democracy, being these regional or sub-regional, are mocked by two of the weakest countries in the region, Honduras and Paraguay, the credibility of the latter is sentenced to death. Besides, M. Barrios made reference to deep changes made under the administration of Fernando Lugo who clearly: broke down the party system which had driven Paraguay, a country which was a kind of semi-state and an empty formal democracy; all was achieved thanks to the formal complicity between the Red Party and the Liberal Party. My analysis results from a geopolitical vision of the geopolitical regional importance of Paraguay and not from any of the arguments above mentioned.
The same moment we made this statement: President Lugo impeachment has been done, disguising it as a strictly and cynically “constitutional” act, with an “indicted” political trial in which the most fundamental basis of the right of defense were violated, the “Parliamentary Coup” was performed. This fact should take us to analyze the new methods through which traditional powers run their “adjustments” in order to avoid losing the power they have gained through years of manipulation. Latin Americans should bear this in mind, indeed. The last attempt of traditional coup took place in Venezuela on 04/09/2002, and it ended up failing on 04/14, when Hugo Chávez regained power. As from then, the new coup models have been more subtle: Market Coup (another concept to Political Science coming from Latin America), the case of Alfonsín (occurred in Europe with Italy) to the coups in Argentina in 2001, which ended up in Fernando De la Rúa´s resignation under pressure of his legislators and leaders of his political party UCR; and the case in Honduras, 2009 when the congress revoked José Manuel Zelaya Rosales on the grounds of treason to his country and other offences. This takes us to conclude that demo liberal democracies show one Achilles heel which has been even worse with the unquestionable success of globalization, as the concentration of economic powers do not further need the “support” of national militia, but of more civilized tools. Therefore, with the control of mass media, political and economic pressures are able to put “things in place” by using pseudo legal strategies thereto.
Paraguay could not easily escape from 60 years of tyranny of Alfredo Stroessner with a bipartisan system ran to guarantee the power of conservative parties, composed by landowners and prominent businessmen. President Lugo, was able to break up with another rule of the conservatives as he joined the continental view of “Big Nation” refused by this power (last 06/22, the senator who was heading the impeachment show announced in a local radio program in Córdoba that the Paraguayan Congress denied the UNASUR and that they would take President Lugo to court for signing the PROTOCOL OF USHUAIA, on the basis of democratic commitment of MERCOSUR, along with Bolivia and Chile). We should add as “a testimony, a piece of evidence” that this same “Paraguayan Senate” still considers Taiwan Island as a representative of the people of China – being this just an example to show the Cold War mind of these conservative members of Paraguayan politics. Moreover, Lugo has been rather arrogant in certain decisions which have not been easily forgotten; e.g., the veto of the admission of a humanitarian mission which was commanded by the American militia as a result of the scandal in the region on the military agreement between USA and Colombia. In addition, there was a freezing of the Estigarribia Military Base built during Stroessner´s tyranny, together with the presence of American militia and continued during “democracy” until the arrival of Fernando Lugo – who invited Bolivian President Evo Morales to the base in order to show that there was not any North American militia in the premises (I personally reported this in 2005).
This devastating chapter of Latin American history does not end up with the consolidation of a new Coup, but with its Regional geopolitical projection; Paraguay is in the center of this geo economic group called MERCOSUR, and this slip back clearly means an extremely critical situation for the continental ideas of most of the countries in the region, but mainly this means serious damage to its most important partners: Argentina and Brazil. This is highly detrimental to Brazil’s aspirations to consolidate itself as a continental leader and to strengthen its global projection as a member of the BRICS, as it might be seen as incapable of keeping peace in the borders with a partner who supplies it with energy from Itaypu Damn. We should even add to this step backward the recent creation of the so called Pacific Alliance with its objectives as a worldwide power being seriously questioned.
On the other side of the story this means to Latin America a strong attention call on methods used for reestablishing the old political conditions based on social conflicts. For example, people assassinated in Curuguaty (main argument for the impeachment) when some cops were trying to proceed with an eviction order in a place which was full of farmers claiming rights on land and they were attacked by sniper rifles (Who set them up?). This resulted in: 17 casualties; 6 policemen and 11 farmers with a dozen of them injured. This eviction was run by the GEO Special Forces of the National Police Force, being it an elite group trained in Colombia, under Uribe´s administration, for the fight against counter-insurgency. Isn´t it hard to understand why highly trained cops were easily led to an alleged trap set by farmers? Even more, among the dead cops was the chief officer, Erven Lovera, brother of Lieutenant Alcides Lovera, chief security of President Lugo (a clear mafia message). It is necessary to understand how new intervention models are framed on the basis of social conflicts, even more when we see the police force conflict in Bolivia is worsening. This issue calls for a close outlook because of its upcoming institutional consequences.
We can assure you that this geopolitics and geo-economics coup is a step backward in the consolidation and expansion of MERCOSUR (let´s bear in mind that the Paraguayan Senate blocked Venezuela from entering a Common Market). Paraguay is a Mediterranean country, which connects the region through its long water gate rivers, strengthens its importance as food producer, with great power of hydraulic energy. It holds the key of land path among Mercosur´s partners and makes part, together with Bolivia, of the characteristic geography of the countries joining the Atlantic with the Pacific, having its territory great significance for the Guarini Aquifer Region. (Let me remind you that future wars will be over water supply, World Bank´s concept). Another relevant military-strategic issue is the Triple Frontier as in the last years the Southern Command has pointed the need to have greater participation in controlling the so called international terrorist groups and the drug dealers.
All said takes me to the simplest conclusion that if the regional organizations: Mercosur and UNASUR, its Defense Council, are not successful in controlling these measures taken by Paraguayan oligarchic groups, as during Bolivian crisis (Camba separatism) and the Ecuadorian-Colombian conflict, the importance of the latter shall be mere rhetoric and the consolidation of the continental model of current multi-polarity shall be stopped. Then, Brazil will have to lower its aspirations as leader of the region to a mere privileged partnership with the North American Power (USA is back to the region with this coup and the Pacific alliance), as it is hard to believe that the Paraguayan Senate took the decision of impeachment without the support of the American power. All in all, this means a path of no return and a direct attack to the heart of Unasur. We cannot remain aloof to this situation, indeed.