Paraguayan Senate rejects Unasur document used as basis to sanction the country
By an overwhelming majority, 36 to 1 and eight absences, the Paraguayan Senate rejected the Unasur Commitment with Democracy Additional Protocol considering it contrary to the sovereign interests of the country and which was the argument used by the regional organization to sanction and suspend Paraguay.
As a consequence according to the Paraguayan Senate, Unasur (Union of South American Nations) has no basis at all for the sanctions applied on Paraguay when the removal from office of Fernando Lugo and his replacement by Vice president Federico Franco following a political impeachment by the Legislative.
Some of the arguments during the debate against the protocol were juridical given the imprecision of its terms which opened the possibility to sanction a country in a ‘discretional’ way. There were also political questionings such as the fact the sanctions were implemented without giving Paraguay the right to defend itself.
The protocol was also described as ‘interventionist’ because it facilitated the possibility for other countries to intervene when they “interpret” democracy is at risk which bluntly contradicts the peoples’ right to self determination enshrined in the UN charter and in South American constitutional legislation.
Several Senators also pointed out to the fact that the terms and way the protocol was drafted ignores countries’ sovereignty and in the case of Paraguay this is even more harmful given the fact the country is landlocked, makes it more vulnerable in the event of the implementation of sanctions.
The president of the Foreign Affairs committee, Senator Miguel Carrizosa also pointed out that the Paraguayan congress position contrary to the debated protocol has been longstanding and before the impeachment of Fernando Lugo, and thus “can’t be considered a reaction to the sanctions imposed by Unasur on the country”.
The speaker said that the questionings of the protocol had been presented to then Unasur council president Maria Ema Mejia because the document simply ignored the Legislative branches and limited to the Executives the authority to denounce any situation which could be interpreted as a “risk to democracy”
At the time Unasur president Mejía suggested that the consideration of the protocol be left pending.
Carrizosa also underlined the fact that all signatory countries of the Unasur protocol on democracy commitment, including Paraguay, have always had a position contrary to the US blockade of Cuba, which is a regime not characterized for having a traditional democratic system, and nevertheless the protocol opens the way for a country member to be blocked and isolated, in very harsh conditions, following the simple suspicion that the democratic process of one of its members could be in peril.
Senator and former Foreign minister Miguel Abdón Saguier said that “serious countries are becoming aware that there was no democratic rupture in Paraguay, that all was done following strictly what is determined by the Constitution. All that was imagined to sanction us was unreal and capricious”.
Saguier added that Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay did not even care to assess what happened in Paraguay because they had an only objective: getting Venezuela incorporated to Mercosur by the window.
“We must continue to strengthen our democracy and study what we are going to do with Mercosur and Unasur because those who judged us are people interested in perpetuating themselves in office”, underlined Senator Saguier.
The Unasur Commitment with Democracy Additional Protocol was subscribed by then president Fernando Lugo in Georgetown, Guyana on 26 November 2010 and one of the criticisms from the very start was the ample powers granted to intervene in other countries when “in case of rupture or threat of rupture to the democratic order, of a violation of the constitutional order or of any situation that puts at risk the legitimate exercise of power and the exercise of democratic values and principles”.
The only vote in support of the Protocol from Senator Carlos Filizzola, a former mayor of the capital Asuncion and Minister of Interior (Home Secretary) of former president Fernando Lugo.