In a surprise move Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro talked on Tuesday to Paraguay’s president-elect Horacio Cartes to congratulate him on Sunday’s election and express interest in retaking the “rhythm of bilateral relations”, which were interrupted when the removal of Fernando Lugo.
“We’ve spoken on the phone and I ratified the good will of the government and people of Venezuela to have the best possible relations with Paraguay”, said Maduro following a meeting with twenty governors and a brief media conference to inform about the exchange.
“It was a good conversation” said Maduro and “we ratified to Cartes our desire to re-establish the “rhythm of economic, trade, diplomatic, political and cultural relations”.
“We wished him the best of luck as president of Paraguay and we hope that the circumstances which led to the suspension of Paraguay from Mercosur and Unasur can be overcome”.
Cartes on Sunday won the presidential election with 46% of the vote and will succeed President Federico Franco who took office June 22 following the removal of Fernando Lugo who was impeached by the Paraguayan congress for incompetence.
Lugo’s removal was followed by Mercosur and Unasur decision to suspend Paraguay, and several countries recalled their ambassadors from Asunción.
In the meantime the three other full members of Mercosur approved the incorporation of Venezuela as full member, thus avoiding the only negative vote so far from the Paraguayan Senate.
Last July the Paraguayan government declared the Venezuelan ambassador “persona non grata” for ‘gross evidence’ of Venezuelan involvement in the June events and extended the same official rejection to Maduro who at the time was Foreign minister of Hugo Chavez.
“We have transmitted our most sincere congratulations to Cartes in the name of the Venezuelan government and people and hope we can develop a number of initiatives which bring us closer and will allow us to overcome the problems born out of the 21 June 2012 incidents” said Maduro who recalled he was in Paraguay at the time.
The government of President Federico Franco accused Maduro who at the time was part of a delegation of Unasur foreign ministers sent in support of Lugo, of interference. But Maduro went further and called on the chief of staff of the Paraguayan military forces to go to the streets in support of Lugo, while the former president’s impeachment and removal was in process.