“We need to prepare for war to live in peace”, says Paraguayan Defence minister
“We must prepare for war to live in peace” said Paraguay’s Defence minister Maria Liz Garcia in reference to the new geopolitical situation following the suspension of Paraguay as a member of Mercosur and Unasur.
In an interview with Asuncion main newspaper, ABC Color, Ms Garcia said that “wars are never promoted by the peoples, rather by ambitious or fanatic rulers which push situations that become atypical as is the case now with Paraguay”.
“It is obvious that Unasur no longer generates trust, at least for Paraguay. That is the problem when principles are manipulated, values distorted and there is a gross violation of the people’s right to self determination”, added the minister.
Last June the heads of government from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay decided to “suspend” Paraguay’s “right to participate in Mercosur different offices and in the group’s deliberations” arguing that the removal of Fernando Lugo as president and his replacement by Federico Franco was “a rupture of the democratic order” and “an unacceptable obstacle for the integration process”.
At the same meeting and following the suspension imposed on Paraguay, the Mercosur presidents Cristina Fernandez, Argentina, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil and Jose Mujica, Uruguay decided the inclusion of Venezuela in the group as a full member.
The Mercosur presidents “don’t have the necessary statesmanship to respect a nation that lives next to them” said Ms Garcia who then blasted Venezuelan Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro who held meetings with the Paraguayan military in Asuncion hoping to convince them to organize a coup in favour of then president Lugo, ignoring the results of the Congressional political impeachment.
“President Chavez dances cheek-to-cheek with the Iranian president who terrorizes his own people, has no free press or free expression, were women are beaten like in the Middle Ages and Mercosur/Unasur looks the other way and they suspend us”, complained the Paraguayan minister.
“These presidents have no compassion for the tragic and devastating past which led us to confrontations in completely unequal conditions, which nevertheless did not stop the noble Paraguayan foot soldier to fight until the very end”, said the Defence minister in reference to two deadly conflicts.
The so called Triple Alliance war (1864/1870) had Argentina and Brazil on one side plus a reluctant Uruguay, and on the other Paraguay that was literally crushed and every able man from 14 to 60 killed in fighting. After the war Brazilians left several divisions occupying the territory because of the lack of men.
The second conflict was closer in history, the Chaco war, (1932/35) when Bolivia tried to take over the north of Paraguay, supposedly a great oil province. Paraguay fought back and finally claimed victory. Over 400.000 soldiers were involved and over 120.000 died or disappeared. No oil has been found since.
Both wars have created an exacerbated sense of nationalism and pride among Paraguayans which is ever so present just below the skin. The current situation has been politically exploited as a repeat of those conflicts not only because of the Mercosur/Unasur ‘bullying’ attitude but also because Bolivia is allegedly arming and calling for the recapture of territory lost at the Chaco war.
“We are deeply concerned because of the Bolivian military deployment in the Chaco and according to our intelligence their peers are claiming that zone with the same intensity almost fanatic as the Argentines with the Falklands (Islas Malvinas)”, said Ms Garcia.
Finally the minister said Paraguay needs the sufficient flexibility to agree strategic alliances with countries that treat partners as equals in conditions and opportunities, “a negotiation that is favourable for both sides”.
“We need a retrospective look into our national defence and our external defence so that we can turn the crisis into an opportunity. We now have the chance to move ahead with our national development and our national interests, thus we need to prepare for war to live in peace”, concluded the Paraguayan minister.