In connection with the article “A soft coup in South America,” by Jorge Heine (The Hindu, July 12, 2012), I would like to point out that the procedure applied by the Congress of Paraguay to impeach President Fernando Lugo on June 24 was entirely within the realms of the National Constitution. Moreover, the decision taken by both chambers of the Paraguayan Parliament reflects the majority with which this motion was put forward (77 out of 80 in the Lower House of Congress, and 39 out of 43 in the Senate).
President Lugo has lost the confidence of the Paraguayan Parliament, and as such was removed from the post according to the procedure laid out by the Paraguayan Constitution. The then Vice-President of the Republic, Federico Franco, has stepped into the Presidency, to complete the current presidential term ending in 2013, as per the constitutional mandate of his office. The Supreme Tribunal for Electoral Justice has issued a communiqué stating that the general election calendar set to take place in April 2013 is in place, and the primaries of the various political parties are to be carried out according to this calendar between December 2012 and January 2013.
Most importantly, the democratic process carried out by the Paraguayan Parliament, was followed without the demise of any democratic rights and liberties. The freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly are guaranteed, and various political parties and civil society organisations have been voicing their opinions. There was complete subjection of the military forces to the parliamentary procedure that unfolded, and the outgoing President, Mr. Lugo, has accepted the verdict of the Parliament stepping down from the post.
In relation to the deadlines set out by the Paraguayan Parliament for the conduct of the political trial, it must be pointed out that these were accorded as per the regulation approved by the Senate for this purpose, and that as such, a political trial is by no means comparable to a judicial trial, but a vote of political confidence by Parliament. As such, the deadlines for the allegation and the defence of an ordinary judicial trial are not applicable. Furthermore, the time allotted for the defence of the President was not fully used by the defence team which disqualifies the argument that insufficient time was given for the defence.
Genaro Vicente Pappalardo,
Ambassador of Paraguay to India