With Latin America’s three most populous countries voting for president this year, it’s easy to overlook the election in landlocked Paraguay (population 7 million) that takes place on April 22.
Paraguay's conservative President Horacio Cartes reached out to his opponents Monday for talks after a bid to lift a ban on him seeking re-election sparked deadly riots. His opponents say the constitutional change would raise the risk of a return to dictatorship for a country that transitioned to democracy in 1989 after 35 years of military rule.
President Horacio Cartes fired Paraguay’s interior minister and chief of police on Saturday following the death of a young opposition party leader and violent overnight clashes sparked by a secret Senate vote for a constitutional amendment to allow presidential re-election.
Protesters stormed and set fire to Paraguay's Congress on Friday after the Senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election, a change that will also require approval by the Lower House. The country's constitution has prohibited re-election since it was passed in 1992 after a brutal dictatorship fell in 1989.
Paraguay formally requested on Thursday a meeting of Mercosur foreign ministers to address the situation in Venezuela which is undergoing a critical political, social and economic scenario. The request was presented to Uruguay which currently holds the chair of the trade block made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
President Dilma Rousseff said in a closed-door meeting that Brazil is experiencing a Paraguayan-style democratic coup, alluding to the 2012 removal of Paraguay's then-head of state, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported Friday.
The Union of South American Nations, Unasur, decided late Friday to lift the suspension pending on Paraguay, which will become effective next 15 August when president-elect Horacio Cartes takes office.
Paraguay will hold the rotating chair of Mercosur after Venezuela, at the end of this year, which will mark the full active comeback of the country to the regional block, announced Uruguay’s Foreign minister Luis Almagro on Monday in Montevideo.
Brazilian international affairs advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia admits the incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur was done without Paraguay’s approval and argues the downfall of Fernando Lugo was because of his political incapacity to follow on the steps of other countries with strong popular support such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador
Mercosur partners’ sanctions on Paraguay rather benefited than hindered the country, said President Federico Franco during a press conference in which he underlined the country had become more reliable and this was supported by a three fold increase in foreign investments.