As previously posted, Fernando Lugo, the Catholic bishop(*) who’s sired at least a dozen children by several women (at least one of which was underage at the time), has crowned his political career by getting himself impeached.
Lugo. I have met him on three occasions, once in Paraguay and twice in Washington. How do I put this diplomatically and delicately? He is certifiably insane. He is the stuff of novels and comedy movies. A Catholic bishop gone mad who promotes a weird blend of populism, sixteenth century anti-Protestant dogma, a dash of Marxism, some anti-US rhetoric, and some other odds and ends. He had become a follower of Venezuela’s ailing Hugo Chavez and Ecuador’s increasingly unstable Rafael Correa, and at the OAS and the UN, Paraguay took on the anti-US rhetoric of his ALBA masters. As a priest, he had several children, some of whom he officially acknowledged as his. Paraguayans frequently referred to Lugo as “the father of our country.”
Lugo used his office to promote land seizures and, frankly, violence against landowners by the poor. For him, the law was a flexible, plastic, pliable material which could be bent, pulled, and twisted into whatever form he saw fit. He encouraged violence, and he got it; dead cops and dead poor people. The Paraguayan congress had enough of the violence and wackiness, impeached and convicted him in rapid fire order, and swore in Vice President Federico Franco. President Franco will hold the office until national elections in 2013. The new chief executive has run into a firestorm of criticism from around the region, especially the Chavez controlled ALBA nations, but others as well. Lots of gnashing of teeth and rending over garments over the supposed lack of due process, with some alleging the Congressional action is tantamount to a coup a la Honduras.
Third, I am no Paraguayan constitutional expert, but any process that involves open voting by elected officials, and does not involve firing squads or electrodes to the genitals, is a dramatic improvement over what has happened before in Latin America and Paraguay. To have your process criticized as undemocratic by the likes of Castro and Chavez is no shame.
Fourth, this is an opportunity for the US to begin to undermine ALBA influence and shore up a rocky democratic regime. The worst thing we can is criticize, criticize, criticize, and do what we did in Honduras–i.e., let Venezuela take the lead. The US should act like a democratic superpower and not let ourselves get steamrolled by loud Latin American executives who do not like to see fellow chief executives removed, even by democratic means.
Lugo’s crying coup, while new president Federico Franco explained the impeachment,
The popular and successful Silva, commonly referred to as Lula, is stepping down after serving two consecutive terms, the most allowed under the country’s constitution.
His former chief of staff and Silva’s hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff, 62, is widely expected to win the election. She represents the ruling Workers Party and is a former left-wing dissident who was jailed by Brazil’s military regime for two years in the early 1970s.
Opinion polls conducted before the vote showed Rousseff with a lead of about 20 percentage points over her closest rival, Jose Serra, a 68-year-old centrist from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party who was heavily defeated by Silva in the 2002 election.
Al-Jazeera filed a video report from a small town in Southern Brazil, and how Lula’s social programs are considered counterproductive,
Al-Jazeera is probably the only international network doing this type of reporting.
Also in the news in Brazil, Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo (he, the Bishop of the paternity suits) was flown from Asuncion, Paraguay, to Sao Paolo, Brazil, following a stroke during a course of chemotherapy for his lymphatic cancer.
Since I spent the greater part of last week down with a very heavy cold, I didn’t have much opportunity to do the research for a good Carnival. Instead, today I have a few articles, and a great podcast.
First, the podcast:
At 11AM Eastern, blog reader and commenter Jose Angel will be calling from Mexico, and will talk about what we need to know about Mexico.
On the world stage, Chavez’s behavior is increasingly ominous. As Fidel Castro has aged and Cuba’srelations with Russia have faded, Chavez has stepped forward. He has engaged in extensive military cooperation with Moscow, including major acquisitions of conventional weapons, from infantry rifles to sophisticated, high-end weapons well beyond any conceivably legitimate requirements of Venezuela’s military. Chavez’s purchases of advanced-model Kalashnikov assault rifles, some Venezuelan businessmen and former diplomats suggest, are meant to arm campesino “militias” that will rally to him if Venezuela’s military ever threatens his regime, or the weapons may be destined for revolutionary or terrorist groups. In either case, the consequences would be profoundly negative.
Beyond enhancing his own swaggering reputation, Chavez’s growing closeness with Russia and Iranon nuclear matters should be our greatest concern. For decades, after military governments fell in Brazil and Argentina, Latin America prided itself on avoiding the dangers of nuclear proliferation. The 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco symbolized this perceived immunity, but the region’s nuclear-free status is today gravely threatened.
Now, Venezuela is openly helping Iran evade international sanctions imposed because of Tehran’snuclear weapons program. Along with the refined petroleum products it supplies Tehran, Chavez allows Iranian banks and other sanctioned enterprises to use Caracas as a base for conducting business internationally and, reportedly, to facilitate Hezbollah’s activity in the hemisphere.
Even more alarming, Venezuela claims Iran is helping develop its uranium reserves, reportedly among the largest in the world. Indeed, the formal agreement between them signed two years ago for cooperation in the nuclear field could easily result in a uranium-for-nuclear-knowhow trade. In addition, Chavez has a deal with Russia to build a reactor in Venezuela. All of which may signal a dangerous clandestine nuclear weapons effort, perhaps as a surrogate for Iran, as has been true elsewhere, such as in Syria.
A former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear scientist and his wife were indicted on charges of trying to provide nuclear secrets to Venezuela, but U.S. officials stressed the Venezuelan government knew nothing about the plans.
The officials said they have no information from the undercover operation that Hugo Chavez’s government has any plans to try to build a nuclear weapon.
Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas has requested that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera to officially request that the United Nations convene a Security Council meeting to discuss Cuba’s human rights violations, and the plight of political prisoners.
Fariñas is currently on hunger strike to call international attention to his cause. As you may recall, Osvaldo Zapata Tamayo died earlier this month from his hunger strike, after being tortured by the regime “excellent medical care” by being denied hydration.
Cuban artist Geandy Pavon protests by projecting the image of Orlando Zapata Tamayo upon the facade of the Cuban Mission to the UN building in NYC,
Three large aftershocks from last month’s massive earthquake struck just as Chile’s new president took power, delivering a tangible reminder that the forces that dominated his predecessor’s final days will also shape Sebastián Piñera’s new conservative administration.
Mr. Piñera, a 60-year-old billionaire elected on a pledge to run Chile like a business, was traveling by car to his inauguration in the port city of Valparaiso late Thursday morning when one 6.9 magnitude quake hit. Two more struck later, prompting officials to rush through the swearing-in ceremony, cancel the postinauguration luncheon, and evacuate the congress building of assembled dignitaries, who included Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.
Outside, in an impromptu press conference, Mr. Piñera’s first act as president was to announce a tsunami warning. “Citizens who live on the coast, please follow the preventive tsunami alert,” Mr. Piñera said. “The most important thing right now is making sure everyone is safe,”
There were no reports of tsunamis or fatalities from the aftershocks, and the alert was lifted in the early afternoon.
It’s a testament to Chile’s infrastructure that a 6.9 earthquake did so little damage, particularly after the prior two recent earthquakes – the 8.8 earthquake two Saturdays ago, and the 6.0 aftershock last week.
The Journal made an error in the caption for the above photo, where they say,
At the inauguration, Bolivian President Evo Morales, left, President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, center, and Peru’s President Alan Garcia, right, joked that the aftershocks gave them “a moment to dance.”
The man on the right (but only in the photo, not politically) is Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador.
Benigna Leguizamón, who is now 27, took Lugo to court and the court ordered that Lugo submit to a DNA test. Now Lugo is appealing the court’s decision. His pretext is that he doesn’t want to travel to the town where the court insists the tests be made.
Lugo is a despicable, immoral man (and I use the word “man” for lack of another). Leguizamón, a poor woman who has resorted to the law in order to make her claim, started working for Lugo as his cleaning lady when she was in her teens (my sources say she was fifteen). She has previously declared that he wouldn’t even help her buy Christening clothes for the baby that he himself baptized.
In the meantime, he wears custom-made suits made to look like clerical garb.