Chile confirmed that Paraguay finally decided not to attend the EU/CELAC summit in Chile putting an end to a controversy when it emerged that several Mercosur and Unasur members insisted that the landlocked country should not be invited.
“Paraguay has decided that given the situation it is undergoing, it has preferred to remain away from Santiago”, informed Chilean Foreign minister (and host) Alfredo Moreno in the framework of the European Union and the Community of Latinamerican and Caribbean states summit taking place over the weekend in Santiago.
However earlier in the week the Paraguayan president Federico Franco stated that “Paraguay had not been invited” to the summit and thus decided not to send representatives. “Paraguay has not been invited. It is regrettable the situation to which Paraguay has been submitted since last June” said President Franco referring to the suspension imposed by Mercosur and Unasur.
“This is an organization (Celac) in which countries have their own right to decide attendance, in such a way that all member countries and which belong to it, including Paraguay have a right to attend”, insisted the Chilean Foreign minister Moreno.
“Paraguay has not been suspended or had any difficulties with CELAC, therefore Paraguay is a member as any other country”, he added.
From Asunción President Franco stated that “here we have a constitutional government and I wish the issue of Paraguay is brought up at the summit and the situation is rectifies”.
Since the removal from office of then president Fernando Lugo, following an overwhelming congressional impeachment last June, based on ‘incompetence for the job’ Paraguay was suspended from Mercosur and Unasur and has since been absent of all regional summits.
Mercosur and Unasur have stated that the suspension will last until next 21 April when presidential elections are scheduled and probably could be extended until August when the new leader takes the oath.
So far the two regional organizations have managed to have Paraguay excluded from the Ibero-American summit in Spain; the meeting in Peru of Latam with Arab countries, and now from CELAC.
But supported by the US, Canada and most OAS (Organization of American States) members, Paraguay managed to impede a similar decision declaring the administration of President Franco unconstitutional. The suspension initiative at OAS level was promoted by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay, plus Nicaragua and Cuba.
Paraguayan officials were also furious because Uruguay, as current chair of Mercosur has said that “we will defend the interests of Paraguay in our meetings with the Europeans because we know the interests of Paraguay”
However the attitude of excluding Paraguay of all major events in Latin America is not limited to the summits.
The head of the Paraguayan delegation before the Mercosur parliament, Alfonso González claims Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are the masterminds behind the plot to keep Paraguay out of the international scenario.
“In a pitiful impetuous display certain leaders from Mercosur and Unasur headed by Dilma Rousseff (Brazil); Cristina Fernandez (Argentina) and Venezuela (Hugo Chavez) are having a calamitous influence over the continent’s colleagues, which most probably without knowing it, adhere to their initiatives” said Gonzalez in an official release.
Another similar incident was reported by the Paraguayan ambassador in Rome claiming Argentina tried by all means to have Paraguay’s delegation excluded from a FAO technical group meeting.
The incident apparently happened earlier this month at the Latin America and Caribbean Group meeting in the framework of FAO, according to Ambassador Ana Baiardi.
The Argentine objective was to have Paraguay left aside from one of the two vice-presidencies of the group (Peru had the other and Colombia the presidency) arguing that the country had been suspended from Mercosur and Unasur.
Argentina which proposed Paraguay assumes the post after the April election, asked for a vote on the matter, but lost 11 to 1. To add shame to the failed attempt, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela abstained.