Support for ousted Paraguayan president

Blanka reports on the coup that's unseated Fernando Lugo

Hero image

Politician Ken Livingstone and historian Eric Hobsbawm have joined trade union leaders, university lecturers and other influential members of the British public in condemning Paraguay’s recent presidential coup.

Last Friday, Paraguay’s senate organised an impromptu impeachment trial against left-wing president Fernando Lugo. Within six hours, the democratically elected ex-president was replaced by vice president Frederico Franco in a trial that allowed Lugo just 24 hours to prepare his defence.

The trial was held in response to the “mishandling” of a clash between landless peasants and police, leaving 17 people dead earlier in June.


Lugo has referred to the presidential turnaround as an “express coup d’état against the will of the people”, an event that has signalled yet another era of political instability for Paraguay.
Tear gas and water cannons were used during the trial by riot police in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital, to control the thousands of demonstrators outside congress supporting Lugo.

Concepción Oviedo of the Paraguayan student interest group CREAR said: “The parliamentarians – the senators and deputies – in one day decided the future of the country, and put in place a person who was not elected by the citizens in 2008.”

“They cut the democratic process that started in 2008… we want to defend this and we are going to do it.”


The Franco administration promises that next year’s planned elections will go ahead. But Lugo, who refuses to recognise Franco as president (along with Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador), will be attempting to regain his presidential status before August 2013.

Though the former president accepted his dismissal on the day in order to maintain the peace, he is now rallying international and domestic communities to help rebuild what he called Paraguay’s “profoundly wounded” democracy.

Allendria Brunjes, a Paraguay-based reporter, said: “Some people have been fighting for Lugo even though they may not support him… It is important to note that some people have told me they are happy he is gone. But others worry about how the process of his impeachment will affect democracy in Paraguay.”


The incident has been scrutinised by fellow South American countries, many of which, like Paraguay, have had long histories of dictatorships.

Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have withdrawn their ambassadors, Venezuela has halted its oil exports to the country, and the South American trading bloc Mercosur suspended Paraguay’s invitation to this week’s meeting in Mendoza, Argentina.

Paraguay is one of South America’s poorest countries, with a massive disparity between rich and poor. Lugo’s appeal was based heavily on agrarian reform, and with 2 per cent of the population owning almost 80 per cent of arable land, he was welcomed as the champion of the poor.

His election in 2008 broke six decades of undemocratic one-party rule and was hoped to act as the beginning of a new, politically stable Paraguay.

Lugo, since the impeachment, has been asked by the new cabinet to help with ongoing tensions over land disputes, but the ousted president has resisted, stating: “This is a fake government. You can’t collaborate with a government that doesn’t have legitimacy.”

Photo: Ousted Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo gives a press conference for the international media on 28 June

Interact: Responses to Support for ousted Paraguayan president

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.