Paraguay to investigate alleged meeting of military with Venezuelan minister
The new Paraguayan authorities have named a special committee of prosecutors to inquiry into the alleged meeting between Venezuelan Foreign Affairs minister Nicolas Maduro and Paraguayan military during the recent impeachment process.
The two prosecutors have been tasked with investigating the claim filed by Defence Minister Maria Liz Garcia who alleges that the Venezuelan minister Maduro called on the military commanders to support then president Fernando Lugo, when his removal was imminent according to the votes in both chambers of Congress.
The case refers to events on June 22, in the afternoon when the Paraguayan Senate was debating the removal of Lugo, and Chief of Staff General Angel Vallovera called the conmmanders of the three services, Brigadier Miguel Christ, Admiral Juan Carlos Benítez and General Adalberto Garcete to an urgent meeting.
In the alleged meeting with Maduro the Venezuelan minister called on the three commanders to come out in support of Lugo, and that such a measure would receive ample international support. However the plan aborted when the now removed president refused to give the order for the military deployment.
According to the complaint filed, President Lugo’s former private secretary Walter Rojas and an Ecuadorean diplomat also attended the meeting.
One of the first decisions from the administration of President Federico Franco was to name a new minister of Defence, Maria Liz Garcia and remove the whole military top brass from the three services.
Maduro and other Foreign Affairs ministers were part of a delegation sent by Unasur presidents to Paraguay in the midst of the impeachment process on a fact finding mission and to try and mediate in the impeachment situation.
Paraguayan government sources have also revealed that the “extremely summary” impeachment process of the former head of state (48 hours) was motivated on fears that the “carperos” as the landless movement is called in Paraguay and which had been involved in a deadly shootout with police forces (17 dead: 11 peasants and 6 policemen) were preparing a march on the capital Asuncion in support of the removed president.
“If that happened then we could have had a very serious situation which could have split the country with deadly consequences. Fortunately there was common sense on both sides, Lugo and Congress. He repeatedly called for calm and peaceful demonstrations and the new authorities did not have to appeal to extreme measures”, confessed a political source.
He added that the “whole rural situation with landless peasants, roaming armed groups, poor families pushed out of their small farms is highly explosive. Quick action is needed, plots of land will have to be distributed and the gangs disarmed. Violence against the big farms is a constant provocation”.