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.