OAS chief says Paraguay should not be suspended

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By LUIS ALONSO LUGO, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Organization of American States should not suspend Paraguay for impeaching its president because doing so would only isolate the country and create more problems, the group's secretary general said Tuesday.

Jose Miguel Insulza made the announcement after a fact-finding mission to Paraguay's capital, Asuncion, where he met with supporters of ousted President Fernando Lugo as well as the political opponents who voted him out of office for "poor performance" last month.

Other regional groups such as Unasur and Mercosur swiftly suspended Paraguay until its next presidential election in April 2013, calling the constitutional ouster an "institutional coup" that threatens democracies around the region. Lugo personally appealed to the OAS to follow suit.

But Insulza said suspending Paraguay would only make it more difficult to influence what happens next. Instead, he called for deepening the Washington-based organization's commitment with Paraguay by, among other things, sending a team of experts to supervise preparations for next year's presidential elections.

A suspension, he said, "would not contribute to reaching our objectives. To the contrary, increasing the active presence of organs of the OAS could avoid increasing the divisions in the heart of the society and the Paraguayan political system and causing unnecessary suffering to the people."

Paraguay is so far managing to remain politically, socially and economically "normal" — a situation that is "convenient to preserve," Insulza added. "A suspension from the OAS would carry serious economic implications for the country given the direct impact the decision would have for other institutions in the inter-American system."

Paraguay at the moment remains politically, socially and economically normal, a situation that is "convenient to preserve," Insulza added. "A suspension from the OAS would carry serious economic implications for the country, given the direct impact the decision would have for other institutions in the inter-American system."

When the OAS temporarily suspended Honduras in response to its 2009 coup, both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank suspended their credit to the country as well.

"We can't send the message that a rupture in the democratic order is considered something trivial," said Brazil's OAS representative, Breno Dias da Costa.

Venezuela's OAS Ambassador Roy Chaderton said Insulza's report lacks any information that couldn't be found in the media. "This institution, always lukewarm and even cold at times, is like a bowl of cold onion soup, without even the crust of melted cheese," he said.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico voted against an Argentine request to delay any OAS decision until foreign ministers can meet to analyze the situation.

Paraguay's ambassador, Bernadino Saguier Caballero, urged other OAS nations to accept Insulza's report at the organization's next meeting, and "understand that delaying a decision on Paraguay creates great harm. "Enough delays and disloyal actions," he said.

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