terça-feira, 20 de novembro de 2012

All’s not well in the kingdom of Paraguay

A massacre, a 36 hour impeachment and a new president: something is definitely rotten in Paraguay. At least, that was the view of the other three Mercosul’s full Member States, which decided to suspend Paraguay from the block until the next presidential elections. The country is contesting the decision made by the Common Market Council last week, but for now Paraguay cannot attend any of the scheduled meetings for the block.

The actual reason behind Paraguay suspension is the 36 hour impeachment of Fernando Lugo. The process was considered anti democratic and a violation of humans right, because the ex president Fernando Lugo did not have a reasonable opportunity to exercise his right of defense. Indeed, such summary procedure is not appropriate for the grave decision of deposing a rightfully elected president.
The Protocol of Ushuaia, part of the Treaty of Asunción (which created the block), establishes that full respect to democratic institutions is necessary in order to maintain the development of the group. Pursuant to Article 3, “all rupture of the democratic order in one of the Member States of the present Protocol implies the application of the procedures set forth in the following articles”, which include a consultation to the other Member States and to the affected State before the adoption of any constraint measures. To contest the Council’s decision, Paraguay alleges that this step was not performed before its suspension and that there was no rupture of the democratic order.

In practice, the suspension does not imply any significant changes in the economic or diplomatic relationships between Paraguay and the other member states. Unless the country decides to go through with its threat to denounce the Treaty of Asunción, it is still a full member of the block.

This means that, so far, the only real consequence of Paraguay’s suspension is political. In fact, Brazil has publicly criticized Venezuela’s decision to halt oil exportations to Paraguay. In the country’s option, an economic embargo or a suspension of diplomatic relations would only hurt the general population and cause a shortage of goods.

Still, the suspension put Paraguay in an uncomfortable situation. Being suspended from the block, it cannot contest any of the blocks decisions. Also, in order to return to its full member status, Paraguay must accept all decisions made during the sanction period.

The other full Member States have not let the opportunity go unnoticed. Venezuela’s admission as a full Member State of Mercosul was only pending Paraguay’s approval. Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina used the suspension to finalize the admission process without Paraguay’s consent. Also, the Member States announced that Mercosul and China will endeavor to expand trade between them to 200bi per year. The Chinese premier has also proposed the creation of a free trade area between the two areas, which will be studied in the next meeting of the Common Market Council.

But despite these prospectus, in the end, all’s not well in the continent.

Brazil and Uruguay try to mediate the situation because of their interest in the region, whilst Nicaragua, Argentina and Venezuela fight for Paraguay’s expulsion or suspension from all international organizations of the continent. Like Mercosul, Unasul has decided on June 29th to suspend Paraguay indefinitely. On its turn, the OEA (Organization of American States) has sent a group of observers to the country and Nicaragua is fiercely defending the expulsion of the country.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. And, while the world’s still thinking whether the impeachment was a coup or a lawful act, the countries are stepping on eggshells.

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