One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
As far as I have seen tonight, the streets are empty in Asunción, Paraguay.
This evening, as I took a bus here, the president was impeached.
It was a move he called an “express coup d’état.”
* * *
Yesterday, Paraguay’s House of Deputies voted in favour of impeaching president Fernando Lugo. Today, the Senate held his trial.
Opposition parties hold both the upper and lower houses of Congress.
And so, Lugo lost his job.
In a political move that took less than 48 hours, the country found itself with a new president – former vice president Federico Franco.
Other Latin American politicians showed their worry by showing up in Paraguay. While many officials were at the Rio +20 conference, countries like Argentina, Equador and Brazil sent people to here to show their support for Lugo. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was broadcast tonight after Franco accepted his position.
Citizens took to the streets earlier, but as we drove down wide streets during typical Latin American rush hour, there was no one around. There were few cars, rare pedestrians. Not many would want to be outside their gates if rioting began.
For the past few months, I’ve been following Latin American media. Despite moves toward a major justice overhaul and rumblings about Lugo’s love children, Paraguay hasn’t really registered on the international news circuit in a big way for some time.
Reporters are paying attention now. Thousands of articles have already been written on the impeachment.
* * *
When my partner visited his family in Paraguay in March 1999, he was confined to his grandfather’s house, with the occasional trip to the heavily-guarded mall.
At the time of his visit, Paraguayan vice-president Luis María Argaña was assassinated. Raúl Cubas Grau, president at the time, faced an impeachment trial, but stepped down before Senate reached a verdict.
So here my partner is again, visiting his family while the country is in a state of political turmoil. Whatever you do, please, don’t tell my grandmother.
You can tell her that I plan to check out the house of my partner’s grandfather. Look at the mango trees in the backyard. Get to know his cousins. Eat plenty of sopa paraguaya. Do the things that people do despite governmental kilombo.