Paraguay declared “entirely unacceptable” statements from Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriota who said that the April 2013 elections are “only an important step to re-examine” the country’s suspension from Unasur and Mercosur. Patriota’s statement was supported by Argentina.
“Brazil’s Foreign minister Antonio Patriota argues that even after April, even when elections are impeccable, Unasur observation of Paraguay will continue and this is entirely unacceptable for any sovereign country”, said Paraguayan Foreign minister Jose Felix Fernandez Estigarribia in reference to his peer’s statement last week in Lima at the Unasur leaders’ summit.
Following the summit the head of Brazilian diplomacy said it was ‘important’ that the block ‘accompanies’ the Paraguayan electoral process ahead of the April 2013 elections thus inferring that even so Unasur would not lift the suspension on Paraguay decided last June at the Mercosur summit in Argentina.
Patriota argued that “there was a decision adopted at ministerial level and homologated by the heads of state in establishing that Unasur should accompany the electoral process under the coordination of the Foreign ministers council”.
He added that this way “the full re-incorporation of Paraguay could be achieved based on the confirmation that full democracy was re-established in the country”.
Fernandez Estigarribia also pointed out that it was rather odd that well before the report from the High Level group envoy Salomon Lerner on the Paraguayan situation was made public, the Brazilian advisor on international affairs Marco Aurelio Garcia anticipated that Unasur would not back step in the suspension of Paraguay from that block until the elections were held next April.
“If significant spokespersons for the South American group already were announcing what measures would be taken regarding Paraguay, what was the use of the report”, emphasised the Paraguayan official.
Apparently and according to reliable Argentine diplomatic sources “the elections are not the end of the story, and are not either the only condition to reconsider the return of Paraguay to the democratic path. There are other steps such as the fact that the elected president effectively takes office, something which under Paraguayan law does not take place until August. Only then will the electoral circle definitively be closed”
Minister Fernandez Estigarribia underlined that the Unasur High Level envoy to follow the Paraguayan situation and write a report on the issue, former Peruvian Prime Minister “moved around the whole country” and apparently made a positive report, but nevertheless the leaders in Lima only confirmed the suspension.
“Lerner met with whoever he wished in the country and the government set no obstacles to his movements, rather the contrary, and before leaving the country he made some statements that seemed highly positive which were reported by the local and international media, but the report remains secret. I don’t know what was said or happened in Lima nor does the Paraguayan or international media; something smells fishy and is failing in this entire incident”, concluded the Paraguayan minister.
Paraguay was suspended from Mercosur and Unasur last June following the Senate impeachment of Fenando Lugo who was removed and replaced by President Federico Franco. Even when the impeachment was overwhelming and done according to constitutional rule, the two regional groups stated there had been a “rupture of the democratic process” and suspended Paraguay until the next election April 2013.