Both Mercosur and Unasur have voted to suspend Paraguay’s membership after last week’s controversial impeachment of former President Fernando Lugo, but neither group will impose sanctions. Mercosur has also voted to grant full membership to Venezuela.
Both organisations will suspend Paraguay until “the full reestablishment of democratic order can be verified,” with regional leaders looking to the country’s next scheduled elections on the 13th of April 2013.
Mercosur’s Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have deemed the impeachment of former Paraguayan president Lugo as a violation of the Ushuaia Protocol, the group’s so-called “democratic clause”. The suspension represents the first time that Mercosur has punished one of its member states in this way since the block’s creation in 1991.
Paraguay’s new government, headed by Federico Franco, has countered that the states failed to respect Article 4 of the Ushuaia Protocol because they did not consult with Paraguay on the matter.
Franco’s government has also promised that it will respect the next elections.
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, however, called for regional leaders to do all they can to ensure that the elections are “democratic, free and just”. Unasur announced the creation of a ‘high-level’ group to continue monitoring and evaluating the situation in Paraguay, with a special focus on the country’s next elections.
Mercosur also announced the admission of Venezuela as its fifth full member.
Venezuela signed a membership agreement in 2006, but Paraguay’s congress had not yet ratified the country’s membership. With Parguay’s suspension, remaining members Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay – whose congresses had all ratified Venezuela’s membership – moved to admit Venezuela. The inauguration will take place on the 31st of July in Río de Janeiro.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez celebrated the news, declaring the moment a “defeat for imperialism”.
Mercosur’s rotating presidency was passed from Argentine President Christina Fernández de Kirchner to her Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff. Paraguay had been scheduled to assume this role until its suspension.
Unasur’s rotating presidency, meanwhile, was officially passed early to Peru. Until last week’s events, Paraguay had been president of the block and Peru was expected to take over in October; in light of the country’s suspension, however, the turnover was moved forward.