A Coup d'Etat? Backlash Across Latin America To Paraguay Impeachment

CLARIN (Argentina), LA NACION (Argentina) ABC COLOR (Paraguay)

ASUNCION - Paraguay's neighbors have reacted harshly to what they see as the undemocratic removal of Fernando Lugo from power last Friday.

Argentina was the first country to recall its ambassador, and was quickly followed by Venezuela and Ecuador, Clarin reported. Argentine president Cristina Kirchner has called last week's events in Paraguay a coup d"état, and drew parallels between the current situation in Paraguay and the 2009 coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.

In Asuncion, Lugo continued to refer to himself as the president, and said that he intended to return to power, in spite of his announcement on Friday that he would respect the Senate's decision. He explained that he had wanted to avoid violence by saying he would go quietly, Paraguay daily ABC Color reported.

"I want to resist until we regain power because here there was a parliamentary coup," Lugo told reporters late Monday.

Paraguay was also banned from participation in the Mercosur summit that started Monday in Mendoza, Argentina, Clarin reported. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela put aside their differences to issue a joint statement condemning the rupture in the democratic process in Paraguay and announcing country's exclusion from the summit. Lugo, however, will attend the Mercosur summit as a special guest, a move that will further isolate the new government and new President, Federico Franco, Clarin reported.

Lugo's impeachment evolved rapidly over the last 10 days. On June 15, 17 people were killed in a clash between landless farmers illegally occupying a wealthy landowner's property and police trying to evict them. This event was cited as a reason to impeach Lugo, and the Chamber of Deputies voted 76-1 to impeach on Thursday. The Senate voted 39-4 for impeachment on Friday.

Franco, who was Lugo's vice-president, automatically became the new president of Paraguay. Although the two were elected on the same ticket in 2008, they have a long history of disagreements. Franco has accused Lugo of disrespect and was opposed to many of his policies. He was also outspoken about his disapproval of the fact that Lugo had fathered children while he was a Catholic bishop, La Nation reported.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!