Sunday, July 1, 2012

Obama: Right Wing Coup OK By Me

Another Latin American Leftist president has been ousted by a coup, this time in Paraguay, and again, this is fine with President Obama.

As he did when Manual Zayala of Honduras was ousted in a coup, Obama, in letting stand the removal of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, continues US foreign policy in Latin America in the long established form of supporting right wing dictators and politicians over democracy and the interests of Latin American people.

Fernando Lugo - "The Bishop of the Poor" - Reuters
 Latin American leaders, meanwhile, universally condemned the coup last week against Lugo, and in another sign of waning US influence in the region swiftly ousted Paraguay from the Mercosur regional trading bloc and installed in its place Venezuela, the Socialist country led by the Latin American US leaders and media most love to hate at the moment, Hugo Chavez.

Lugo, a former Catholic priest and adherent of Liberation Theology, that is, a Leftist, was elected president of Paraguay in 2008, the first person elected to that office in 60 years who was not a member of the right wing Colorado Party. Lugo had been governing in a weak coalition with the Liberal Party, but the Colorado Party still holds almost all the seats in the legislature, and as a leaked Wikileaks cable shows, had been plotting Lugo's ouster since he took office. The US was aware of the plot. The leaked cable came from the US government.

The plot was finally implemented June 21 when, using as a pretense violence during a peasant occupation of illegally confiscated land, the Paraguayan senate -- which has been called the "instrument of US foreign policy in the subregion" -- "impeached" Lugo for not doing his job well enough.

Paraguy is the poorest Latin American nation and also has the most unequal distribution of wealth and land, and until 1989 was ruled for 35 years by US-backed dictator Alredo Stroessner, of the Colorado Party, which continues as a political party and has effectively blocked Lugo's efforts at land reform and income redistribution. The party had been blocking Venezuela's membership in Mercosur, but as a rebuke to the Colorado Party and perhaps the US, after the coup the other Mercosur members suspended Paraguay and quickly admitted Venezuela. Although some Mercosur members favored it, they have not imposed any economic sanctions on Paraguay because of their feared effect on Paraguay's poor. Suspension of Paraguay from the Organization of American States is also being discussed and the OAS has sent an investigatory mission to Paraguay. 

Lugo's impeachment on spurious grounds was reminiscent of US Republicans' abuse of constitutional remedies, like the impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton or the holding in contempt this week of Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder, and was probably inspired by them.

The usual course of events after Latin American coups is for, eventually, the involvement by the US in its execution or planning to come to light, as happened after the two most recent Latin American coups, that of Hugo Chavez in 2002 and Manual Zalaya in 2009.  

When Manual Zayala was ousted as Honduran president, President Obama initially issued statements expressing concern, but then quickly recognized the coup government when it was established. (The Honduran coup government continues to murder activists and union members by the hundreds, the US military base in Honduras, which Zayala had talked about closing, is still there, and the US militarization of Latin America under the guise of the "drug war" continues unabated.)

Argentine President Christine Fernandez de Kirchner called Lugo's removal "a parody" and a "coup d'etat." It's been condemned by close US allies Mexico and Columbia, which have conservative governments. The reaction of the Obama administration was to express "concern" over the speed with which the impeachment process took place.

No condemnation, no withdrawing of the ambassador, no talk of cutting off aid or trade. In other words, once more, according to President Obama, 'This is fine with me.' 


Details about the coup and the US response from:

Inter Press Service

Daily Kos 

MercoPress (internal maneuverings in the Mercosur Trade bloc)

The Economist


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