Venezuela suspended oil shipments and withdrew its ambassador from Paraguay as part of a regional wave of condemnation against the ouster of leftist Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo on June 22.
“We are absolutely not going to support this state coup, not directly, neither indirectly,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on June 24.
Chavez described Lugo’s political impeachment trial, engineered by the majority conservative parties in Paraguay’s congress and senate, as “express, summary, illegal and unconstitutional.” He said: “They judged him without evidence, and furthermore from night to day ... these things always happen when the bourgeoisie and the right govern”.
Chavez drew parallels with the coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras in June 2009.
Right-wing parties in Paraguay’s congress and senate had been blocking Venezuela’s entry into the Mercosur trade bloc despite the approval of Lugo’s presidency and other member states Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
On June 29, Mercosur suspended Paraguay in protest at the coup. It also accepted Venezuela as a full member.
Newly sworn-in de facto Paraguayan president Federico Franco had reiterated his opposition to Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur. France said the removal of Lugo has saved Paraguay “from becoming a pro-Chavez satellite”.
Chavez attacked Paraguay’s coup leaders as “the same as those who made Paraguay a Yankee colony for many years and supported the dictatorship, massacres, tortures and disappearances”.
Social movements in Venezuela also protested against Lugo’s ouster. At a demonstration outside the Paraguayan embassy in Caracas on June 23, Hernan Vargas of the Dwellers Movement said: “What was attacked [in Paraguay] was the people’s will, therefore we condemn the bourgeoisie of Latin America and the political, economic and military factions in Paraguay that lent themselves to this dirty move.”
Canada, Germany and Spain have already recognised the new Paraguayan regime. The United States has yet to declare whether it will recognise the Franco government.
The nations of the eight-member anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA), however, have declared their support for Lugo as the elected president and refused to recognise the Franco government.
Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico have also withdrawn their ambassadors from Paraguay.
The Washington Post said on June 30 that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), uniting the governments of South America, had also suspended Paraguay over the coup.
[Abridged from Venezuela Analysis.]