The April 21 elections in Paraguay brought Horacio Cartes to the presidency as the Colorado Party candidate. These elections had as their antecedent the destitution, in a scandalously summary process, of Fernando Lugo, President of the Republic of Paraguay. This political action was rooted in a supposed ambush carried out by a group of campesinos, scarcely fifty in number, against over three hundred policemen, in Marina Kue in the district of Curuguaty department of Canindeyú.
The idea of the ambush was blown up by corporate media serving the interests of economic actors belonging to the Paraguayan oligarchy, with two goals: first, the defenestration of the Paraguayan president, and second, the idea of convincingly demonstrating the existence an internal militarized enemy that must be combated. Creating the presence of the internal enemy has an advantage that cannot pass unnoticed, that of its taking on the discourse and claims of popular social groups in Paraguay who are the victims of an economic model that excludes them. Putting this discourse in the mouth of a group considered to be "terrorist" is a move designed to criminalize any popular protest against the scandalous inequality that is rampant in the country.
Why criminalize protest organizations? What is the intention of the system in associating them with the Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP – Paraguayan People's Army)? The idea was to weaken the grass-roots organizations that critically supported and sustained a government that was open to these sectors, as well as separating Fernando Lugo from his support-base, which though dispersed, shored up his government, in the absence of an organized base that could, at given moments, have supported his policies. This distancing damaged his support as head of the government, since it was the only thing that sustained him.
The destitution of Fernando Lugo was not only an internal maneuver within Paraguay, but also part of a scheme to disband the coordination among progressive governments in Latin America. It is because of this that Paraguay was suspended from Mercosur and UNASUR, and the putchist government was not recognized by the international community. The message thus conveyed by these countries to those responsible for the coup was that a move backwards would not be tolerated, much less an attack on regional unity. It was also made clear that internationally at attack on democratic processes would not be tolerated.
This reaction put a brake on those who were pushing this notion; but another scheme appeared for disbanding of the South American bloc with the sudden disappearance of the Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez, which was the formation of the Pacific Alliance, headed by Colombia and designed by U.S. imperialism, basically as a response to MERCOSUR, UNASUR and CELAC. In order for this plan to work for the Empire, it had to gain adherents from the Southern Cone so as to isolate Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.
This is the scenario facing the President of Paraguay who will take office in August; his first speeches and action with respect to the region were looking to regional integration. However this changed drastically following the assassination of Luis Alberto Lindstron Picco, on May 31, in Tacuatí. This lamentable event made way for resurrecting the figure of the EPP as an irregular group responsible for the assassination, as establishment economic actors, with one voice, clamored for the Paraguayan government to combat the group. Underlying this discourse is the closer collaboration with Colombia, which supposedly maintains an effective combat against guerilla groups; but actually it signals a change of direction in foreign policy announced by the President-elect, all of which is aimed at the strengthening of the Pacific Alliance.
It is obvious that Paraguay needs to be a part of a regional bloc, for both economic and cultural reasons. The two traditional parties – The Colorado Party and the Liberal Party – both subject to the economic power tied to the interests of transnational corporations will hardly oppose a retreat from regional organisms of integration promoted by the emerging economies. Given the lack of lucidity or the submissiveness of the traditional parties, the task of reorienting foreign policy will be left up to democratic and left-wing groups, which now have a parliamentary presence.
Because of this, there is an urgent need for the leftist and democratic sectors in Paraguay to undertake an evaluation of this situation, oriented to the unity of democratic sectors, with clear rules supporting democracy in internal organization, and avoiding the dangers of sectarianism. Another challenge is that of defining strategies in the face of the worldwide decadence of the capitalist economic model and the worn-out hegemonic power, whose political repercussions in the internal politics of other nations is palpable. This determination will make it possible to balance the correlation of forces internally and eventually contribute to regional integration.
(Translation: Jordan Bishop for ALAI)