Argentine President Cristina Fernandez confirmed by writing that she would be attending the inauguration of Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes next Thursday 15 August, according the organization committee of the event in Asuncion, Ambassador Federico Gonzalez and head of Protocol at the Paraguayan foreign ministry.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place next Thursday at the Lopez Palace overlooking the Paraguay River at 08:30 in the morning. So far six presidents have confirmed their attendance, which includes the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay). Uruguay’s Jose Mujica confirmed by writing last Friday and so did Peruvian leader Ollanta Humala. Chile’s Sebastian Piñera had advanced he would be present at president-elect Cartes ceremony and so did Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou and Prince Felipe heir to the Spanish throne.
So far a hundred countries and international and multilateral organizations have confirmed attendance to the inauguration which amounts to an estimated 450 accreditations, plus another 4.000 special guests. Ambassador Gonzales revealed that the organization committee has a 1.5 million dollars budget.
Two who are not coming are Ecuador’s Rafael Correa but he will be represented by Vice-president Jorge Glas and Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, who will be replaced by Foreign minister Maria Angela Holguín.
However not a word has been said about how Cartes team plans to organize the reception of Mercosur which will be lifting the suspension on Paraguay imposed in June 2012 precisely on 15 August. Furthermore Paraguay has made it public it has not invited Venezuela that currently holds the Mercosur presidency.
In effect, in June last year the Paraguayan Senate following political impeachment, according to the local constitution and with an overwhelming approval vote, removed Fernando Lugo and replaced him with Federico Franco. Lugo accepted the vote but Mercosur argued it was a ‘congressional coup’ and suspended Paraguay until the election of a new president.
But in the meantime Mercosur approved the incorporation as full member of Venezuela, which was rejected by the Paraguayan Senate. The approval took place even when Mercosur charter demands a unanimous vote and the participation of all members.
Incoming president Cartes has demanded respect for Paraguay’s dignity and for the rule of law, international law and Mercosur institutions, and until this has not been complied, the country is “in no hurry to return to Mercosur”.
Paraguay is also particularly insistent in the non presence of Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro since at the time of the events in June 2012 he was Foreign minister and was caught in video trying to convince the Paraguayan military commanders to send to the troops to the streets in support of voted-out Lugo. He was declared person non grata for Paraguay.
No word has been said about Evo Morales from neighbouring Bolivia which has a long standing feud with Paraguay going back eighty years. Bolivia started the Chaco war in the early 1930s which ended with a Paraguayan victory and the capture of Bolivian territory. The two countries have since been very jealous of their border lines and defence budgets. Furthermore President Morales was clearly aligned with former Venezuela president Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, which Paraguay rejects.