Peru Recalls Ambassador To Paraguay

Peru’s government said Monday that it has recalled its ambassador to Paraguay to evaluate the situation in the South American country following the ousting of its president last week.

The Foreign Relations Ministry said that it will evaluate the situation in coordination with other countries that make up the Union of South American Nations, Unasur.

Paraguay’s President, Fernando Lugo, was impeached on Friday following a vote in that country’s Senate and an earlier vote in the Congress. Both voting sessions were pushed through speedily with little debate.

Lugo’s removal was due to his alleged role in mismanaging a violent clash between police and poor farmers who had invaded a privately-owned farm. At least 17 people were killed, including six police officers and 11 squatters, during the confrontation following the attempt by police to remove the individuals from the farm.

Lugo accepted the impeachment, but still called it a “parliamentary coup.”  His vice-president, Federico Franco, whose liberal party formed a coalition with Lugo’s center-left to win the presidential elections in 2008, has been elected by the Congress to be President until 2013.  Franco’s call for acceptance from South American leaders has been met with a cool response.

Critics have said the impeachment process did not give Lugo, a left-leaning former Catholic bishop who has been called the “priest of the poor,” sufficient time to defend himself.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala had offered to host his counterparts from Unasur in Lima to discuss the matter. That meeting was expected to take place later this week, but state news agency Andina reported on Monday that it has been suspended.

Unasur members have largely rejected the ousting of Lugo. Some of the countries, including Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela, have recalled their ambassadors to Paraguay and said they will not recognize the new government. Other governments, including Brazil, Chile, and Peru, are analyzing the situation.

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