Land rights massacre a pretext for Paraguay coup
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Tue Jul 3 23:32:17 BST 2012
Covert US Op: The Paraguayan Coup
by Bill Van Auken - Global Research, July 3, 2012 - World Socialist Web Site
The so-called constitutional coup that ousted
Paraguays elected President Fernando Lugo on
June 22 is another indication of the mounting
class tensions that are gripping Latin America
and the world as a whole, making democratic forms
of rule under capitalism ever more unsustainable.
There is every reason to believe that the hurried
impeachment of Lugoforced through both houses of
the Paraguayan parliament in barely 30 hours
after he was charged by the two traditional
parties of the countrys ruling oligarchywas
carried out with the indispensable complicity of US imperialism.
A former Catholic cleric and proponent of
Liberation Theology, Lugo was elected in 2008,
promising to combat corruption and promote socially responsible capitalism.
Without any party of his own, he came into office
on the back of a coalition that joined a
combination of left-nationalist groups, peasant
and indigenous associations with the Liberal
Party, a right-wing instrument of the Paraguayan
oligarchy, which had been tolerated as a tame
opposition under the 35-year dictatorship of
Alfredo Stroessner. It was Lugos vice president,
Liberal Party leader Fernando Franco, who donned
the presidential sash after supporting the
impeachment of his former running mate.
Committed to the defense of private property and
with all the real levers of power remaining in
the hands of the Liberals and Stroessners
Colorados, who ruled the country for six decades
before the 2008 election, Lugo was able to carry
out little in the way of reforms, while he
adapted himself continuously to Paraguayan reaction.
Nonetheless, the ruling oligarchy as well as the
transnational agricultural interests found his
presidency intolerable, fearing that it was
generating false expectations among the masses of
Paraguayan workers and oppressed. In particular
there was concern that masses of landless
peasants, receiving nothing in the way of genuine
agrarian reform from the government, would take
matters into their own hands. In a country where
2 percent of the population controls more than 75
percent of the land, and where much of this land
was expropriated from its owners and handed out
to favored Colorado politicians under the
Stroessner dictatorship, there is ample reason for such fear.
The principal pretext for the impeachment was a
massacre unleashed by Paraguayan security forces
as they attempted to evict some 100 peasant
farmers occupying the land of a wealthy former
Stroessner-era Colorado politician. Eleven
peasants and six policemen were killed, while
scores more were wounded and arrested. The
right-wing parties in the Paraguayan Congress
blamed Lugo not for gunning down peasants, but
for failing to carry out more thorough repression.
The parallels between the June 2012 coup in
Paraguay and the June 2009 coup that toppled the
elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya,
should be obvious. In both cases, the political
representatives of oligarchical ruling classes
threw out presidents who had postured as lefts,
bitterly opposing even the paltriest reforms as
intolerable infringements upon their wealth and
power. And in both cases legal and constitutional
statutes were twisted to serve wholly antidemocratic ends.
While in Zelayas case, troops stormed the
presidential palace and hustled the pajama-clad
president onto an aircraft that flew him into
exile, such methods proved unnecessary in the
case of Lugo, who meekly and publicly accepted
his impeachment, only joining protests after the
fact. In Paraguay as in Honduras, however, the
real violence will undoubtedly unfold in the
aftermath of the coup, directed against the
countrys workers, peasants and students.
The social structures of the two countries also
share much in common, with Paraguay the second
poorest country in South America and Honduras the
second poorest country in Central America and
with social inequality driven to unprecedented
levels, in large measure due to the penetration of transnational capital.
And both countries have been the focus of
attention of the US military and intelligence
apparatus, which shares intimate connections with
its local counterparts. Security forces in both
countries have been trained and advised by the
Pentagon and would not support the overthrow of
an existing government without its approval.
In Honduras, Washington has installed its largest
military base in Latin America. And, in the
period leading up to Lugos removal from office,
US generals were reportedly involved in
negotiations for securing a strategic base with
the same right-wing politicians who organized Lugos impeachment.
In August of last year, ABC Color, Paraguays
main right-wing daily, reported that Deputy Jose
Lopez Chavez, the head of the Commission on
Defense of the lower house of the Paraguayan
Congress, reported meeting with a group of US
generals visiting the country to discuss the
installation of an American base in Paraguays
thinly populated Chaco region. Lopez Chavez is a
leader of a dissident faction of the Colorado
Party headed by former coup leader and retired
general Lino Oviedo and one of the organizers of the parliamentary coup.
While Lugo had sought to placate Washington and
allowed US special forces troops into the country
to train Paraguayan troops in counter-terrorism
tactics and advanced military operations in
urban terrain, he balked at a large-scale
exercise proposed by the Pentagon for 2010. A
secret US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks
reports that embassy officials had sought to
vigorously engage government ministers and
Paraguayan military commanders to force
acceptance of the operation, known as New
Horizon. The cable accused Lugo of getting cold
feet and of seeking to curry favor with
Venezuelas Hugo Chavez in order to get a better deal on oil imports.
Other secret cables dating back to 2009 released
by WikiLeaks carry titles such as Paraguayan
pols plot parliamentary putsch and Lugo
impeachment rumors are back. They indicate that
the US embassy was intimately familiar withand
undoubtedly secretly involved inthe conspiracies
being hatched by the Paraguayan right.
The Paraguayan coup, following the coup in
Honduras and the expanding US involvement in the
drug war in Mexico and Central America, is
another indication that with American capitalism
confronting powerful economic rivals in China and
Europe, the Obama administration is turning ever
more openly to counterrevolutionary conspiracies
and military force in the drive to reassert US hegemony in Latin America.
The events in both Paraguay and Honduras have
proven once again that working people in Latin
America cannot defeat imperialist intervention
and the oppression by native ruling classes
outside of the independent political mobilization
of the working class in struggle for socialism.
In both countries, counterrevolutionary
operations were facilitated by the political
subordination of the workers, peasants and
oppressed to capitalist politiciansLugo and
Zelayawho were in turn under the thumb of right-wing bourgeois parties.
Bill Van Auken is a frequent contributor to
Global Research. Global Research Articles by Bill Van Auken
+44 (0)7786 952037
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