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.
As Carlos Eire put it, the impeachment is good news from Latin America, for a change.
The Diplomad has more,
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 transition took place with little unrest, while the usual Latin American lefties aren’t happy.
*Note: As a couple of readers correctly point out, Lugo is no longer a bishop,
Born in 1951, Mr Lugo became a priest in 1977, and served as a missionary in Ecuador for five years.
In 1992 he was appointed head of the Divine Word order in Paraguay. He was ordained a bishop in 1994, and then served for 10 years as the bishop of the poor region of San Pedro.
There, his support for landless peasants earned him the reputation of “bishop for the poor”.
He came to national prominence in March 2006 when he helped lead a big opposition rally in the capital, Asuncion.
He resigned from the priesthood in December that year, as the Paraguayan constitution prohibits ministers of any faith from standing as a political candidate.
The Vatican initially refused to accept his resignation, arguing that serving as a priest was a lifetime commitment and instead suspended him from his duties.
However, in July, Pope Benedict XVI granted Mr Lugo an unprecedented waiver to remove his clerical status.
I should have said “former Catholic bishop.”
He still wears custom-made suits with a clerical collar.