Unasur special envoy Salomon Lerner said he returns to Peru with “a good impression” of the Paraguayan electoral process and the overall situation of the country.
Paraguay is currently suspended from Unasur and Mercosur (until April’s presidential election) because of the political controversy last June when Fernando Lugo was removed from the presidency following an impeachment by the Senate which had an overwhelming support. However the two regional groupings described the removal as a “rupture of the democratic process” and imposed the suspension.
Speaking with the media after his two-day fact finding in situ mission the former Peruvian Prime Minister acknowledged that President Federico Franco effectively is in full exercise of the Executive.
“I see the situation with optimism, with the electoral calendar being complied with total normality and on schedule”, said the president of the Unasur High Level Group on Paraguay who also made it a point to congratulate members of Paraguay’s Superior Electoral Tribunal, TSJE, because they have control of the logistics and technicalities of the balloting.
“I congratulate the willingness expressed by the Electoral Justice Tribunal that is open to listen to suggestions in the coming months ahead of the election”, said Lerner adding “this ensures trust and optimism and means the Electoral Justice Tribunal are on the right course and will obtain their objective”.
However when asked about the electoral process guarantees Lerner did not risk an opinion. “I can’t say there are guarantees because I am not involved in the process and I’m not an expert. I’m saying that the report from the Tribunal makes us think that all has been planned for the good ending we are all expecting”.
When asked about the parameters he applied to measure the ‘quality’ of democracy in Paraguay, Lerner replied he does not have a “democracy measuring meter”, but he underlined that “my impression is that there are sectors that have pointed out to some flaws regarding human rights, and I was told there was a serious police repression last night in front of the Prosecutor’s office, but I thing they are anecdotes”
“Overall I leave with a very positive impression. There is a timetable that is being complied”, but Lerner said he could not predict the attitude of Unasur once they have read his report.
“The report seeks to give Foreign ministers a light on the issue so that they can make an electoral observation and this turns out into a path, an opening, a key, a tool, however you wish to call it and Unasur can begin the process of reincorporating Paraguay to the group of democratic nations”, said the Peruvian diplomat.
Unasur leaders are scheduled to meet next week in Lima, Peru and precisely one of the issues in the agenda in the Paraguay situation.
Regarding the hypothesis that Paraguay must remain outside of Mercosur so that Venezuela can stay in the block, Lerner preferred not get involved in the issue because “Peru pretended or believed that it should have been done through the regional convergence of the Community of Andean Nations and not directly through Mercosur”.
In effect the remaining three full members of Mercosur taking advantage of the suspension of Paraguay decided the full incorporation of Venezuela, an issue that had been delayed since 2006 because the Paraguayan Senate would not accept or approve Chavez ‘democratic methods’.
Lerner arrived in Paraguay for his fact finding non official mission as a simple visitor although with an agenda of scheduled interviews and appointments. The Paraguayan government did not extend him an invitation given the current tense situation.
Furthermore the Paraguayan Foreign ministry in a release condemned Paraguay’s exclusion from different political, economic, social and technical forums describing it as a “persecution crusade” from Unasur member states.
“Paraguay condemns the fact that Unasur governments maintain and reinforce this ‘persecution crusade’ in regional and international organizations and forums” said the release “despite all the efforts from Paraguay to reach an understanding”.
These political and economic measures are clearly geared to coerce Paraguay and restrict its full exercise of sovereign rights in detriment of International Law, adds the Paraguayan government.
“This Unasur attitude of systematic persecution of Paraguay, only in its type, is openly contrary to International Law, the UN charter and the norms and principles that rule peaceful relations among states such is the non intervention, self determination and juridical equality of all States” emphasizes the release.