OAS mission in Paraguay to follow electoral process and political conditions
The OAS, Organization of American States, cabinet chief and head of political affairs are expected in Paraguay to continue with the organization’s mandate of establishing an electoral committee and helping with the process of strengthening democracy in the country.
Hugo de Zela and Kevin Casas-Zamora will be arriving in Asunción from Lima where they held talks with the Peruvian Foreign minister Rafael Roncaglio and with Salomon Lerner who presides the High Level Group from Unasur (Union of South American Nations) in charge of the “Paraguay case”.
“This can be considered a second Insulza mission, both because of the relevance of the officials that accompany cabinet chief Hugo de Zela as well as because of their commitment” said Paraguayan ambassador before OAS Hugo Saguier Caballero.
The main purpose of the OAS mission is to establish the bases and contacts that will allow making political dialogue with the new Paraguayan authorities’ fluid and report periodically on the electoral process scheduled for next April, to the OAS Permanent Council.
Last week the OAS decided not to sanction Paraguay for the removal of Fernando Lugo from the presidency following an overwhelming majority vote as a result of an impeachment process at the Senate last June. Lugo was replaced by Federico Franco, following on the constitutional order, but Mercosur and Unasur decided to “freeze” Paraguay’s membership until next April 2013, when the new presidential election alleging there had been a “democratic rupture” since the former president did not have time to organize his defence and it was “a summary trial”.
OAS on the other hand took a more paused decision: first it sent a special fact-finding mission to Paraguay headed by OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza who then reported to the Permanent Council. His report about the post-removal situation in the country plus human and civil rights conditions was positive, which helped to cool tempers when OAS finally took a vote on the issue.
Paraguayan authorities all along supported and facilitated the OAS mission task when they visited the country. Paraguay on the contrary has been particularly critical of Mercosur and Unasur. Especially with Mercosur which following the suspension of Paraguay voted the incorporation of Venezuela to the group as a full member.
Hugo de Zela and his delegation are expected to make a similar round of contacts and interviews that Insulza held at the beginning of July, meeting with members of the current government and from former president Lugo’s ministerial cabinet.
When the OAS delegation arrives they will be met by Foreign Minister Jose Fernandez Estigarribia just back from Washington for the Friday OAS Foreign ministers’ extraordinary meeting on the UK/Ecuador situation and the inviolability of embassy and consular premises.
Minister Fernandez pointed out that during the OAS meeting, all his peers (from Mercosur and Unasur) including Venezuela and its close partners treated Paraguay with the utmost respect. Even Ecuadorean ambassador Maria Isabel Salvador approached Minister Fernandez to thank him for Paraguay’s support in the conflict with the UK over Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.