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MEDIA RELEASE: Common Frontiers condemns coup against Paraguayan leader Fernando Lugo

The Council of Canadians is a member of Common Frontiers, which issued the following statement today.

June 26, 2012 — For 61 years, Paraguay was controlled by the Colorado Party, a one party dictatorship that ruled the country under what amounted to martial law. Elections were heavily rigged, opponents were harassed and intimidated, and Indigenous peoples who rejected being relocated from their lands to make way for foreign multinationals were displaced or massacred. In 2008 Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who comes from the tradition of liberation theology was democratically elected. Since his election, he has been fighting for the rights of the poor against the wealthy land-holding class.

This past week, the Paraguayan Congress, dominated by parties who support the traditional landed oligarchy in the country, found Fernando Lugo guilty of mishandling the armed clashes over a land eviction in which 17 people died including police and peasant farmers. This resulted in Lugo’s impeachment from office.

It is clear that the President had no direct responsibility for what took place, and that the impeachment is an excuse to overthrow the democratically elected President Fernando Lugo.

Common Frontiers joins with democratic governments and human rights bodies around the world in condemning what amounts to a coup d’état by opposition parties in Congress, in alliance with the traditional landed elite in Paraguay. We underline that the so-called impeachment did not follow due process, violating article 17 of Paraguay’s constitution which provides for the right to an adequate defense.

We are disappointed to read that the Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs refers to the situation in Paraguay as an expression of democratic order. Instead, this action represents a rupture of the democratic order, leading to destabilization in Paraguay and across the region that cannot be tolerated.

– We call on the Canadian government to condemn the attempted coup and refuse to recognize the new regime of Federico Franco

– We call on the Canadian government to join calls for the immediate and unconditional restoration of the democratically elected president of Fernando Lugo

– We call on the Canadian government to withdraw its ambassadors from Paraguay until democracy has been restored

– We call on mass civil mobilizations to join in solidarity with Paraguayan civil society that is in resistance defending their democracy and political system

For more information:

Raul Burbano, coordinator, Common Frontiers: 905-932 2897; burbano@rogers.com