Paraguay should not be suspended from the Organization of American States, OAS, despite the removal of President Fernando Lugo, said on Wednesday Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The crisis triggered by the exit of Lugo must be a motive of unity for the region and not of division, added Jacobson talking with journalists and the first formal statement from Washington referred to the Paraguayan situation.
Lugo was removed from office by Congress following political impeachment last June 22 and so far the US government had taken prudent distance from the situation waiting for the results from the in situ mission of OAS to Paraguay.
“At this moment there does not seem to be a reason to suspend Paraguay from OAS”, said Jacobson.
OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza travelled to Paraguay last week heading a fact finding mission and also said he was against suspending Paraguay following the controversial removal of Lugo from office and his replacement by Vice-president Federico Lugo, which triggered a strong debate in the OAS Permanent Council.
However country members from the Union of South American Nations, Unasur and Mercosur decided to suspend the new Paraguayan government in reprisal for the “rupture of the democratic system,” and what some heads of state considered a “parliamentary coup”.
Suspension stands until April 2013 when general elections are scheduled to take place in Paraguay and the calendar has been confirmed by the new authorities and President Franco who has pledged to step down in August next year.
“I see Paraguay as a way of uniting us as a region, in support of Paraguayan democracy, not as an issue to exacerbate divisions”, underlined Jacobson.
Insulza suggested to the Permanent Council of the 34 country OAS a mission to monitor and closely follow events in Paraguay and the organization of a meeting in coming days to debate the proposal and to decide if any action is to be taken against Paraguay.
However Brazil pointed out on Wednesday that it was a simple proposal from Insulza and not a definitive position from OAS.
“The notion that OAS continues to be committed with a mission is very positive”, said Jacobson
Meantime Panama is a similar position said that relations with Paraguay are normal and Ambassador Sabrina Garcia will remain in Asuncion, based on the findings from the report presented to the OAS Permanent Council by Insulza.
“We are observing the situation, but our ambassador remains because relations with Paraguay are normal”, said Foreign minister Roberto Henriquez. “We will take a definitive position on the issue soon but meantime we prefer to see how events unfold”.
According to Insulza’s report the country is calm and institutions have accepted the change, said Henriquez for whom cutting relations with Paraguay two hours after the removal, as some countries did, seems a “bit too precipitated”.
Meantime from Lima it was announced that former Peruvian cabinet Chief Salomon Lerner Ghitis was named as head of a UNASUR high level group that will assess and follow the Paraguayan situation.
“Unasur member countries have supported on consensus the naming of Lerner to lead a high level group, which is also a strong support and confidence vote for the Peruvian democracy since it holds the presidency of the group”, said Foreign minister Roncagliolo.
The special group with four other members will begin its activities next July 17 in Lima according to the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.