100 thoughts on “Fox Suspends Henhouse from Mercosur Pending Democracy Restoration

  1. “The way Paraguay’s congress trampled President Lugo’s due process rights is worrying indeed.”

    Only if we assume that:
    (a) there were no warnings issued by congress, months prior.
    (b) that there is a timeframe provision in the Paraguayan constitution.
    (c) that Lugo is not being accorded due process (ex-camara) in a regular court of law.

    We know that art. 225 of the P. constitution mentions no timeframe (b) and allows for Lugo’s ue process through a regular court of law (c).

    Maybe it’s FP’s editorial word limit that cuts into critical explanations. Too bad. Because without that, the article becomes fluff and a tad manipulative. Or is that just my view?


    • Good article except for the “due process” business. Lugo had months of forewarning even from his own Party members of Congress, which he ignored, until the 17 deaths of “carperos”/police brought everything to a head. Congressional speed was accentuated by Jackal Maduro’s clumsy attempt +the carperos’ plan to march on Asuncion. A 75-1 Lower House+39/45 Senate decision should be enough proof for any political kibbitzers that the decision was just as correct as it was Constitutional


  2. Quico,

    From your article: “The way Paraguay’s congress trampled President Lugo’s due process rights is worrying indeed.”

    What rights are you really talking about? Ex-President Lugo was not executed. He was not deprived of his liberty. His property was not expropriated. He was not exiled. He was merely removed from office, and from a position of public trust. If Paraguay’s congress trampled on anyone’s rights, it was the electorate of the country, not those of Lugo. And if the electorate feels cheated, then they have an opportunity in the very next election to vote their congress members out of office.

    Although you went on to decry the LatAm culture of presidential privilege, your first statement belied the follow-up. Re-read your own article, and you will see that even you carry some of the same bias you are objecting to.


    • I mean that the right to put forward your side of the story in a reasonable and timely fashion is a basic right people enjoy in *all*sorts*of* settings: from felony trials all the way down to petty administrative panels. If I’m accused of a parking violation and I get a ticket, I get the chance to contest it, putting forward my side of the story in front of a judge. If I’m denied a loan at a private bank, I can even appeal that! The right to be heard in processes that have a bearing on you is a general principle of due process, and of plain old fairness at that.

      Lugo asked for time to prepare a defense, congress told him to go suck on a pickle. That’s just not right. It’s not on the same scale of wrong as, y’know, urging another country’s generals to disregard the constitution – which you may have noticed, was the point of my FP piece – but it’s churlish to pretend that impeachment was peachy-fine…


      • I agree with Quico on that. The process was constitutional but the way it was implemented was so rushed out that it gives Lugo’s (and Chavez’s) some unintentional support to their arguments.

        And it’s true: Why isn’t Maduro’s behaviour a bigger scandal? This is just despicable. It shows the double standard of Latin American geopolitics: Coups are bad, except those made by our friends. Uruguay’s FM admitted that Venezuela’s entry in MERCOSUR was part of a political bargain and it’s not fully set in stone. Al final todo es por la plata…



      • Quico: “I mean that the right to put forward your side of the story in a reasonable and timely fashion is a basic right people enjoy in *all*sorts*of* settings…”

        It’s not a right; it’s merely a form of consideration and a way of maintaining credibility by the deciding side. This is especially so when the rules that were established before Lugo was in power, and which I guess he *swore* to uphold, state that the decider does not have to afford that right to the accused before putting the accused out of office.

        As for a counter to your examples of *all sorts* of settings, I’ll mention getting fired in any *no fault* state of USA, whereby one can be fired for any reason at any time and the only right to “appeal”, which is different to “defend”, by the way, is triggered only if some law is broken, such as in harrassment or hate situations.


        • IACHR Expresses Concern over the Ousting of the Paraguayan President
          June 23, 2012

          Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the ousting of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo through an impeachment process that, because of its speed, generates profound questions as to its integrity.

          The House of Representatives of the Paraguayan Congress decided on June 21, 2012, to initiate an impeachment process against President Lugo. The following day, the Senate voted for his removal from office, with 39 votes in favor, four against and two members absent. The resolution on the procedure to be followed, which was approved by the Paraguayan Senate on June 21, established that President Lugo was to present his defense the following day, for two hours. According to the media, a request presented to the Senate by representatives of President Lugo in order to have more time to prepare his defense was rejected.

          The Inter-American Commission considers unacceptable the speed with which the impeachment of the constitutional and democratically elected President was conducted. Considering that it was a process for the removal of a Head of State, it is highly questionable that this could be done within 24 hours while still respecting the due process guarantees necessary for an impartial trial. The Commission considers that the procedure that was followed affects the rule of law.


          • Paraguay: Short Shrift for Due Process in Impeachment
            JUNE 25, 2012

            (Washington, DC) – The impeachment process that led to the removal from office of President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay on June 22, 2012 showed a lack of respect for due process.

            The Chamber of Deputies initiated the process on June 21, accusing Lugo, among other reasons, of being responsible for clashes between police officers and peasants that led to 17 deaths on both sides in mid-June. The following day, the Senate carried out the impeachment trial, lasting less than five hours, during which Lugo had only two hours to present his defense. The Senate promptly found him guilty and removed him from office. Media accounts said the Senate rejected Lugo’s request for additional time to prepare his defense. Federico Franco, Lugo’s vice president, took office as Paraguay’s president on the same day.

            “The extremely rapid process to impeach former President Lugo raises questions about his ability to adequately defend himself,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “A process that leads to the removal of an elected head of state and does not respect basic due process guarantees is a serious blow to the rule of law.”

            Lugo’s impeachment followed a procedure provided for in article 225 of the Paraguayan constitution, which establishes that the president can be impeached if he “performs poorly his functions” or commits crimes. The constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote to support the accusation by the Chamber of Deputies, followed by a public trial in the Senate. A two-thirds majority vote by the Senate is required to remove the president from office.

            The constitution, however, also provides for the right to defense in any process that “could lead to a penalty or sanction” and explicitly states that every individual has a right to “indispensable time to prepare the defense.”


            • I’d have to see the article of the P. constitution, and the definitions to gain a better understanding of HRW’s “any process”, in their claim that the P. constitution “also provides for the right to defense in any process that “could lead to a penalty or sanction” and explicitly states that every individual has a right to “indispensable time to prepare the defense.””


            • Quico,

              Of all the info you provided, nothing really countered what I posed, excepting this paragraph:

              “The constitution, however, also provides for the right to defense in any process that “could lead to a penalty or sanction” and explicitly states that every individual has a right to “indispensable time to prepare the defense.””

              Note how it specifies processes that could lead to penalty or sanction. Paraguay seems to make a huge distinction between political trials and “regular” trials. The article on which the removal is based, points to removal by political or regular reasons. If only political reasons, there would only be removal from office. If the removal is for any regular non political reasons, those would be tried after removal from office.

              So, nothing you’ve posted seems to give him the right to defend himself for political accusations leading to removal from office if two thirds of their Senate so decides.

              Also, I emphasize my position that any judgement regarding their process must be based on their constitution and their laws, given that he most likely swore to uphold those.


      • Quico,

        Look, I will concede that this may not have been good politics. I agree that it would have been better for Paraguy had it been done more transparently, with a public impeachment process, allowing for some degree of rebuttal and so forth. However, I stand by my statement that “rights” do not apply in this case.

        If I am an employee of a company, and the company fires me for incompetence, I may have the right to protest and receive payment for loss of salary, benefits, etc. But I do not have a right to stay in my position, creating damage to the company during the process. As a manager, if I fire an employee, I show him the door immediately. It is neither incumbent on the employer, nor wise, to let an employee continue in his or her position, once the employer makes a decision to terminate the employee and informs said employee. This is even more true, if the employee in question, is the CEO of the company. I don’t want to claim that this case is completely parallel with the president of a company, but it is close enough to mention.

        In any case, I am for any trend away from entrenched presidential caudilloism and towards increased accountability of elected officials. As for the “rights” of politicians, I just can’t get too worked up over them. As far as I am concerned, they “serve at the pleasure” of el pueblo.

        And, of course, I completely agree with the point of your article that Maduro’s incitement of the Paraguayan Military to suborn the constitution by force was outrageous, and any number of other adjectives. It should have been noted and condemned by the press and by the international community. Unfortunately, no one expects any better from Venezuela at this point. The rest of the world is numb to Venezuela’s absurd and outrageous positions, and no one takes them seriously.

        Five years ago, Chavez was a threat to the region, now he is only a threat to himself, and to Venezuela.


        • Well said, Roy. But regarding your “As a manager, if I fire an employee, I show him the door immediately” … not so fast.

          Any labor board, arbiter or judge in a supposedly non-comiquita country will side with the employee, when the company fires that employee without having given him/her previous notice, even though the employment manual for that company stipulates that notice must be given.

          Upon receiving judgement, the employee has every right to receive damages from the company that did not follow proper procedure. This I know.

          When the employee’s transgression is severe (as in the case of Penn State U.’s coach), the way around the no-notice issue, I believe (I’m no lawyer), is to suspend the employee (with/without pay) until the issue is resolved.

          That’s why I was interested to know whether Lugo received notice for his transgressions, in the weeks/months prior to his ouster.

          We may discuss this issue up the wazoo, but ultimately, it’s the P. constitution that rules, not our opinions. In the meantime, the case enters regular legal channels, as the P. constitution allows.


          • Syd,

            I said the cases were not exactly the same. When people are talking about Lugo’s “rights” being trampled, they are not talking about severance pay.


            • yes, I jumped too quickly on a delicate matter on which we have so little information. I only wanted to point out that a manager who fires an employee better think twice before ousting (“I show him the door immediately”), when internal (or union) protocols have not been met. Reason being, the manager’s rash decision would impact his/his company’s bottom line, when the case goes to court, and the company is found liable for that manager’s rash decision.

              I believe that when people talk about Lugo’s “rights” being trampled, they are referring to the fact that Lugo did not have enough time (notice) to prepare a defence.

              I agree with you, that (unless the timing/notice/defence preparation issue is specified in some other document that is not art. 225 of the P. constitution,) Lugo has no “rights” within the political mechanism that is enshrined in art. 225 of the P. constitution. Once the majority vote of “no confidence” is enacted, he’s out the door. Period. But he does have full rights to a judicial process outside the political mechanism, where his lawyer will no doubt go for damages.


    • Lugo wasn’t given much of a chance to defend himself, but the decision was carried out through the proper channels and in a manner outlined by the Paraguayan constitution. It wasn’t an ethical decision but rather one of those that so many Latin American governments take which inhabits the gray zone between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’. Chavez’s rule has been full of these decisions and I’m sure we all have a laundry list of them. However, the difference is that in Paraguay’s case I don’t think Mercosur would have approved even if Lugo had been given a chance to defend himself. Even if Lugo had taken the stand and the trial taken weeks I’m sure Nicolas Maduro would still be there talking about a ‘golpe’.


  3. Maduro received a “smackdown” in Paraguay and justly so. This is like a smackdown for Chavez, too since Maduro is nothing more than a zombie, automaton mouthpiece of Chavez. But, then Chavez felt soothed by the action/reaction? of the” Ladies in Red”(Kirchner and Rousseff)
    -they turned their anger on Paraguay. And, what in the world provoked the sudden
    desire to “marry” Venezuela- after knocking Paraguay out…seems like animal reaction?
    Note how everything shifted to Paraguay-it became something else- not about Lugo.
    Speaking of Lugo, I would like to see him arrested now and taken to Court for murder
    and treason.


  4. “If I’m accused of a parking violation and I get a ticket, I get the chance to contest it, putting forward my side of the story in front of a judge.”

    Certainly not a ticket from Transito here in Venezuela. The only “contesting” is greasing the palm of the officer.


  5. Seems nobody remember 35 years of military gov’t in Paraguay, and the extreme measures the civilians take to remove from office anyone who threatens the democracy.

    El picao de culebra, cuando ve bejuco, brinca


  6. The article was excellent. Since the Paraguayan Congress listed a number of formal allegations, it is a matter of procedural justice, recognized in many international instruments, that the accused be given the right of reply, and time to prepare that reply. That said, Maduro’s action was far worse. He has no right whatsoever to intervene in the Paraguayan chain of command, whether his favorite candidate is the legitimate President, or not. What is he, the imperio?


  7. Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color has posted a small part of the video. A 50-minutes version will be presented to the media later.


  8. Mercusor lacking in male participation. So, the dominant females sought out a
    “dominant male”-Rousseff said like it was an emergency they needed to make a
    “political statement” now! What this translates to -is the females were not going to fight
    each other-because there was no male to fight for… Just like gorilla behavior.
    The only problem is it’s quasi- virtual -since Chavez cannot “perform”.
    And, Chavez’s surrogate, Maduro is knocked out (by female Paraguay) and of course
    Uruguay’s President is too old…this sounds primative-and it is. Unconscious desires and
    hormones still controlling behavior? Mythmaking, too.


  9. I really, truly, can’t understand why people have so much trouble understanding DUE PROCESS. This was a comiquita trial, and FT’s argument is impeccable. Moreover:


    En el proceso penal, O EN CUALQUIER OTRO DEL CUAL PUDIERA DERIVARSE PENA O SANCIÓN, toda persona tiene derecho a:

    1. que sea presumida su inocencia;
    2. que se le juzgue en juicio público, salvo los casos contemplados por el magistrado para salvaguardar otros derechos;
    3. que no se le condene sin juicio previo fundado en una ley anterior al hecho del proceso, ni que se le juzgue por tribunales especiales;
    4. que no se le juzgue más de una vez por el mismo hecho. No se pueden reabrir procesos fenecidos, salvo la revisión favorable de sentencias penales establecidas en los casos previstos por la ley procesal;
    5. que se defienda por sí misma o sea asistida por defensores de su elección;
    6. que el Estado le provea de un defensor gratuito, en caso de no disponer de medios económicos para solventarlo;
    8. que ofrezca, practique, controle e impugne pruebas;
    9. que no se le opongan pruebas obtenidas o actuaciones producidas en violación de las normas jurídicas;
    10. el acceso, por sí o por intermedio de su defensor, a las actuaciones procesales, las cuales en ningún caso podrán ser secretas para ellos. El sumario no se prolongará más allá del plazo establecido por la ley, y a
    11. la indemnización por el Estado en caso de condena por error judicial.

    Yours truly,

    The 1992 Paraguayan Constitution

    So, they kick out the president because this constitution allows them to do it, but they clean their asses with Article 17, Ordinal 7? Way to go to build institutions that should serve society!


    • I agree that the 1 day trial threatens the legality of the impeachment, but is not that easy. Many of the norms you quote above apply only for criminal trials that might lead to incarceration , Due process in other types of procedures is not clearly defined is usually defined in broad principles and apply in a case by case basis. Obviously, a 1 dial trial does not suffice for any kind of due process, but Lugo was not entitled to all of the due process guarantees of a criminal defendant.


      • El artículo 17 claramente regula el DERECHO PROCESAL en Paraguay. Su preambulo dice claramente: “En el proceso penal, O EN CUALQUIER OTRO DEL CUAL PUDIERA DERIVARSE PENA O SANCIÓN… Conclusión: en cualquier tipo de proceso, se debe respetar el numeral 7 de dicho artículo.

        Due process is clearly defined, capisci?


        • Pena o sanción refers to punishments in criminal laws not the plain meaning of the word sanction. When it mentions cualquier otro proceso, it means trials that can lead to prison terms or criminal fines. You can tell that the article refers to criminal due process because instead of referring to abogados it refers to defensores which is how lawyers are called in criminal procedures in Latin America. Imputación is the act of charging someone of a crime, only used in criminal procedures. If he had been impeached for any crime this would clearly apply, but he is not going to jail or being sanctioned. Of course there is a notion of due process for other type of trials and some of this provisions apply, but is not automatic. Due Process outside criminal law is not clearly defined. In a civil lawsuit the state is not obliged to provide you with an attorney or provide with all the guarrantees of the article.


  10. Key points:



    Just in case.



      All well and good, EXCEPT, you had 2 foreigners stirring up the folks with the guns.

      2 Foreigners known to be partial to the object of the trial.

      What you, and many others, are missing here is that had had been warned for months now to quit behaving like he was behaving. The man has the morals of a mink, thinks that expropriations are fun and makes Bucaram look like a Sunday Schooler.

      No vale, good riddance to that POS.

      That man had fair warning, should have known how the constitution could work in his case and how to present a defense.

      When the dust settles, nobody will be able to fault the Paraguayan Congress or the new president for their actions in this matter.





      • 1. The stirring up was a consequence of the constitutional coup d’etat, not the other way around.
        2. I am not missing anything. One thing is to be warned and another very different is to be put on trial without giving me the chance of a proper defense. For instance, how many times people all around the world are threatened with being sued? Right. You pay attention when you are actually sued. Then, you hire a lawyer to PREPARE YOUR DEFENSE!
        3. It is not about the individual but the principle. Heck, I dislike the SOB just like anyone else here, but that is not the point.
        4. This action will bring political instability in that nation for years to come. It will be another way to oust a president without the need of the military.
        5. Do you have any idea the mayhem that would have occurred in the U.S. if Congress had somewhat managed to kick out Clinton without giving him the right of a due process? Of course, that could not happen because the guy presiding any presidential impeachment procedure is the president of the SUPREME COURT.

        Por eso estamos como estamos…


        • You are correct regarding the stirring of the pot.

          This took place in Paraguay, not the US. The procedures for impeachment differ vastly. Not applicable.

          To take your lawsuit analogy a bit further. If you get told once that you will be sued, I get that you might not worry, after all angry people say things they don’t mean all the time.

          If you get told several times that you are going to be sued, and you check the law and see that it’s possible that you can lose your job over it, you had goddam well better look into it.

          Again, Mr. Lugo thought he could get away with it, and he was shown he could not and in fact did not get away with it.

          Estamos como estamos because of a spineless opposition that gave away the assembly to Chavez, allowing the whole raft of changes that ended up corrupting our democracy into a jujitsu autocracy.


          • Chamo, that is some seriously pulled-out-of-your-butt legal theorizing.

            Just imagine, if repeated warnings that you’re about to be taken to trial relieved judicial authorities from the duty to hold trials that meet minimal standards of fairness, all a prosecutor would have to do is vaguely hint that you’re about to get into trouble before rushing you through a 6 hour charade with no discovery of evidence, no cross-examination, no serious possibility to put forward your side of the story…then call the whole thing kosher “cuz the basterd knew what was coming”…


            • In the specific case of Mr. Lugo, the forms were followed for the procedure that stripped him of office.

              We may not like it, we may think it’s unfair, etc. But it is what is written and there are no standards mentioned in terms of time for rebuttal, etc.

              If a 6 hour charade is what the law in Paraguay allows, then for God’s sake own it! You’re the frikkin President! Inform yourself! You can have a whole raft of attorneys and other shamans and poohbahs to tell you what to expect! Don’t cry uncle when your nuts are in a vise, a vise you knew was there and was being oiled and polished.

              Look Quico, I get that the guy was railroaded. I understand that 2 hours is not exactly enough to defend why you may or may not dig The Beatles White album and did Yoko spell doom for them or not, much less whether you get to continue being President

              I get it, really.

              My point is, that is given what is written, you are the President, you ought to know better or suffer for your ignorance. And if Lugo doesn’t like it, or Franco wants to soak his beard because he has seen Lugo’s on fire, then they can do whatever their Constitution allows them to do to change it. Fill the thing with Natural Justice until it blindfolds itself!


          • “This took place in Paraguay, not the US. The procedures for impeachment differ vastly. Not applicable.”

            Exactly. And, Venezuela is not Switzerland.

            “If you get told several times that you are going to be sued, and you check the law and see that it’s possible that you can lose your job over it, you had goddam well better look into it.”

            In other words: “Mr Lugo, we are gonna put you on trial; be warned. But, we are just not going to tell you how we are going to conduct said trial. Hint: you will not like it.


            • Mr. Lugo, you’re the President right? You know there’s this thing here in the Constitution, article 225, right? You do know the Constitution right? What’s that? You haven’t read it? But you’re the President! One if your duties is to defend it. How can you defend it if you don’t know it?

              Keep doing what you’re doing, sir. See you in court.


              • OK, I’ll propose a truce. I tend to agree more with Johnny Walking’s interpretation than with yours, RevBob, but I recognize that it isn’t insane to say Lugo was offered a two hour spot to defend his record that could conceivably be seen as sufficient chance to put forward his case.

                So what do you do when you have two competing non-crazy interpretations on a matter of constitutional law? You ask the Supreme Court for an injunction staying the decision until a proper judicial opinion can be produced on whether the impeachment meets or doesn’t meet the guarantees in Article 17.

                Except, oh wait, we can’t…because congress prejudged the entire question by tossing the guy out in 6 hours and swearing in his replacement before the day was out!!!!

                We’re going around in circles, aren’t we?


    • It’s really not difficult. But I think the impeachment proceeding would be highly questionable even if it wasn’t written into the constitution, because the right to defend yourself is a matter of natural justice – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_justice – a right inherent to the human condition that exists prior to and independent of its juridical iteration. It scares the shit out of me that this isn’t blindingly obvious to some of my readers…


      • If it wasn’t written into the constitution, and it was done as it was done then yes, that would be worrisome and questionable.

        However, that constitution was the one in force the day of the trial.

        There is no TAIMA (Time out, for those not familiar with the Venezuelan slang) clause in it.
        There is no, ” ‘ang on then matey, let’s ‘ave a go at dis rule ‘ere it don’t look kosher, then you can try me.” clause.

        If you are the President of a Country, you had damn well better know the Constitution that regulates life in your country. You had better well know it backwards and forwards, up, down and around, or have people on your side who do that for you.

        You want to change something, and your Constitution has a way to do that, then do it.

        Otherwise, put up and shut up.

        Again, this procedure did not come out of left field for Lugo. This was not a Zelaya in PJ’s at midnight reprise. This MF had known for months this was in the cards. He probably figured since he had 13 months to go they would just wait, but they didn’t.

        Natural Justice is, according to the wiki you posted: “Natural justice is a term of art that denotes specific procedural rights in the English legal system[1] and the systems of other nations based on it. It is similar to the American concepts of fair procedure and procedural due process, the latter having roots that to some degree parallel the origins of natural justice.”

        If you can prove that the Paraguayan justice system is based on the English one, you may have a point.

        Mine is, these are the rules for all to see. Like ’em or hate ’em, them’s the rules and you better play by them.

        Maybe I’m biased against Lugo (bueno, not maybe, I AM BIASED) but tough titties for him.


        • Roberto N, no truer words have been spoken. I like the blunt clarity. You did a great job
          here! (I was preparing to write something serious and honest like what you said)I apologize for horsing around ‘talking about gorillas” -it was sort of tongue-in-cheek.
          My true feelings are in alignment with yours.
          Roberto N- a serious question- shouldn’t some Court in Paraguay bring Lugo before them and seriously charge him with murder? treason? Conspiracy?

          I just want to repeat- Lugo knew -everybody knew- even Chavez knew-that is why he
          dispatched is boy who got KO’d!!


        • What too many people here seem to forget is that we’re talking about a man in a position to cause the deaths of others as a result of his actions (one of the things he’s accused of). You get due process when you get to the trial to demonstrate your innocence, BUT YOU DON’T GET DUE PROCESS TO BE REMOVED FROM YOUR POSITION.

          Imagine a cop who is caught on video saying that he enjoys killing black people, how long should it take for him to be removed from his position? There should certainly be a legal trial to determine if he’s guilty of any actual crimes, but he has to be removed instantly from his position with no “derecho a pataleo” until everything is clarified.

          If you see a man carrying a grenade and about to throw it into a bus full of school children, you shouldn’t wait until the niceties of polite society are done proving his guilt before you beat the crap out of him.


      • No matter what he could have said on his defense, it would have been a mockery of a trial, because the veredict was already there. I also wish that they had taken their time to keep appearances and whatnot, but let’s be honest: the guy was a goner from the beginning. Even the Supreme Court called it kosher! And I pressume that the guys know their constitution better than any of you guys.

        I think that FT and the other supporters of a fair trial are missing something here. It was a political trial. It was a conflict between the legislative and executive branch that was about to escalate. Was there actually any politically viable alternative? A mexican standoff between the Congress and an inmoral President that believe that he’s above the law? I can easily imagine this guy trying to pull a coup against the Congress à la Fujimori. From the Maduro’s video, Venezuela and Ecuador were probably suggesting something of that sort.

        Probably the Congress should have done a trial with all the formalities of due process, but given the risk of a Fujimorazo, it was probably the least of two evils…


      • “It scares the shit out of me that this isn’t blindingly obvious to some of my readers…”

        Some of your readers are simple partisans hasta los tuétanos (with the odd cryptofascist here and there for color). You can’t ask for pears from the oven and all that…


        • That would be pears from the oak tree, WLAD. (no se le puede pedir peras al OLMO. OLMO as in ELM TREE, not HORNO as in OVEN)

          And as for partisans or criptofacists, I resemble that remark!


      • From your link “specific procedural rights in the English legal system and the systems of other nations based on it.”

        What makes the Enlish legal system so inherent to the human condition? And the use of the word Natural is ironic, given that in Nature no such rights are available.


  11. There seems to be a confusion about terms. The Congressional judgement is clearly not a trial in which the rights of the individual person (that is President up to that moment) are in jeopardy. Only his tenure as public official is in jeopardy:

    The whole article 225 reads:

    “El Presidente de la República, el Vicepresidente, los ministros del Poder Ejecutivo, los ministros de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, el Fiscal General del Estado, el Defensor del Pueblo, el Contralor General de la República, el Subcontralor y los integrantes del Tribunal Superior de Justicia Electoral, sólo podrán ser sometidos a juicio político por mal desempeño de sus funciones, por delitos cometidos en el ejercicio de sus cargos o por delitos comunes.

    La acusación será formulada por la Cámara de Diputados, por mayoría de dos tercios. Corresponderá a la Cámara de Senadores, por mayoría absoluta de dos tercios, juzgar en juicio público a los acusados por la Cámara de Diputados y, en caso, declararlos culpables, al sólo efecto de separarlos de sus cargos, En los casos de supuesta comisión de delitos, se pasarán los antecedentes a la justicia ordinaria.”

    “En los casos de supuesta comisión de delitos, se pasarán los antecedentes a la justicia ordinaria.”

    Lugo had NO RIGHT TO THE PRESIDENCY which was after all his job, particularly if the people that are ENTRUSTED to actually PUT TABS on him decide he is NOT FIT to continue, ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY. And while the “judgement” was to be public. In NO MANNER OR WAY was the impeachment a SENTENCE regarding ANY OF Lugo’s RIGHTS. No more so than a no-confidence vote. If Lugo wants to have a trial, he might want to be indicted, else he might sue, fully knowing that they had every right to impeach him and they did, and that the Supreme Court .

    Fair? No. No sporting chance was given to poor Fernando Lugo, for this was no sport and no court of law. Unseemly fast? Yes! Necessary? A Congress judged it so, almost unanimously and across party lines. Was any right of Lugo violated? NO!



      Under any imaginable interpretation, losing the presidency is a sanction. What they violated was not his “right” to the presidency (there’s no such thing) but his right to be heard in a process leading to his sanction.


      • But he was given to opportunity to be heard. He decided not to go. Your case might be that he wasn’t given any “official” time to prepare. But he knew that they were after him. He should’ve prepared just in case, specially after all the warnings.

        He asked for more time, naturally, in order to maneuver politically his way out of the trial (my own reading). If he had had a case, he would have showed up in congress.


      • I thought that it was clearly stated that Congressional “judgement” was only to the effect of (“separarlos de sus cargos”) stripping the accused officials from their posts. That any punishment was to be left to ordinary justice, read courts, after Congress decided to hand over the pertinent files to them.

        Interesting interpretation, yours. I did not know that elected posts were fundamental rights of individuals once acquired or that they attached indelibly in the manner of a nobility title.

        Lugo is yet to be sanctioned (as in punished in any way), if he is to be punished at all, by a court of law. If and when he has been prevented from doing a thing in the world as a private citizen then we can talk of punishment.

        So far he only has had censure from Congress and maybe has been shamed publicly. Hey! He can try and sue for moral and psychological damages!


      • Toro, from the strictly legal point of view, no right of Lugo was violated:


        But then, you have this:

        “La acusación que dio lugar al inicio del juicio político contra Lugo fue formulada con el voto favorable de 76 diputados, de un total de 80. Por su parte, la destitución del presidente fue resuelta por el Senado mediante el voto favorable de 39 senadores, de un total de 45. Estas cifras superan ampliamente el requisito de la mayoría calificada de dos tercios requerido constitucionalmente para destituir al presidente, revelando que una mayoría abrumadora de legisladores votó a favor de la destitución constitucional de Lugo.”

        76 de 80, 39 de 45…


      • Quico: “losing the presidency is a sanction”.

        I disagree that their law sees it that way. In the very quote that you post it says, “CUALQUIER OTRO”, meaning not this one.


        • Huh?

          No, you need to read again.

          Article 17 says you have a right to adequate time to prepare a defense in any Criminal procedure (which impeachment explicitly is not) OR ANY OTHER PROCEDURE that carries a sanction (which impeachment pretty clearly is…)


          • Oh man. I’ve been out all day running errands and catching up on things, and I missed the whole discussion on the Paraguayan Constitution!


          • No, in my earlier comment I pointed out that Paraguayan law seems to make a distinction between judicial trials, which only result in office removal, not considered penalizations nor sanctions, and ordinary trials, which do carry these. In fact, they point out that if the president is accused of anything other than job performance, an ordinary trial ensues.

            Again, the analogy is getting fired in a no fault state in USA. You can sue, later, for any reason that was NOT bad performance.

            Your only counter has to be in terms of this distinction, or you’re not really responding to the Paraguayan postion.


            • More specifically, Paraguayan law seems to be based on sanctions only resulting from law breaking. The president’s destitution was not only result from an accusation of breaking the law, where the ordinary trial context applies, it was a result of bad performance, where the political trial context applies, with no legal penalizations or sanctions apply, just job removal.

              It’s not a bad concept, though I would have polished the implementation a bit.


    • errata: “And while the judgement was to be public, in NO MANNER…”

      “…fully knowing they had the power to impeach him and they did, and that The Supreme Court of Paraguay upheld the decision.”

      should proofread my comments…


  12. It would be really fun to witness the reaction of many here if some day it were possible to oust President Henrique Capriles Radonski (assuming he will be elected) IN EXACTLY THE SAME MANNER. I can imagine the newspaper headlines: “HCR BOTADO POR LA AN: Se presentó la moción durante el desayuno, y en la tarde durante la merienda se procedió a la votación para destituirlo. Se le dió el tiempo del almuerzo pa’que se defendiera. El resto del mundo (o por lo menos los paises civilizados) están cagados de la risa.”


    • If Capriles were guilty of half the crap that Lugo was guilty of, if our Constitution was written like the Paraguayan one, then fine by me.

      No deben meterse a brujo los que no conocen la hierba.


      • You keep missing or distorting the main point. That is fine with me, you can keep doing that until you drop dead, but it doesn’t fly. I will explain it to you again: just imagine if some day it were possible to oust President HCR IN EXACTLY THE SAME MANNER by an adverse AN, even though there wasn’t ANY MERIT FOR IT. That wouldn’t matter because if these thugs could muster a 2/3 majority, he would be out, wouldn’t it? Can you imagine the ensuing political instability, brujo?


        • Let me flip it for you, Sr. Caminante.

          Imagine you could do that to Chavez…………….

          I think we’ve beaten this horse to death, and then some.

          I think we end this stating that you and I and others on both sides disagree about the fairness and appropiatness of what went down.

          I respect your position, but beg to differ. Thanks for discussing this in a civilized manner!


      • “If Capriles were guilty of half the crap that Lugo was guilty of”

        but if he were innocent and had only 2 hours to prepare a defense….

        ” if our Constitution was written like the Paraguayan one ”

        let’s consider ourselves lucky on this count…


  13. Why bother with a bill of particulars if you are not going to allow a defence? Why give two hours notice ? Why grant standing to the President’s lawyers at all? Was that just p.r. spin to disguise the exercise of arbitrary power? The idea that Lugo had no right to the Presidency is, I think, wrong. Since he was elected, and since he can be removed only for cause, however loosely defined, cause should be proven. Absent that, the Congress could overturn a Presidential election on a whim.


    • But unless you find a objective standard to define what “mal desempeño de sus funciones” means, how is it measured or proved, the Paraguayan constitution allows Congress to overturn a President on a whim (In this case it was after a major political crisis, which was probably the reason they created the “mal desempeño de sus funciones impeachment”) What compromises the legality of the impeachment is that it was done in a 1 day trial.


          • If Paraguay had a Parliamentary system, that would be a good point. But a core distinction between Presidential, and Parliamentary systems is preciaely that the President is elected separately. With the President, He she has has legitimacy based on winning the popular vote, which no legislator has done, and which they may not have equalled even when taken together. In Presidential systems, the results of the general election are not properly reversed by an Assembly, absent good cause.


        • Sure, but it’s clear that the 1992 framers had in mind a procedure that went beyond a simple vote of no confidence, and included some of the trappings of judicial due process. They didn’t write “el senado podrá separar al presidente de su cargo por mayoría de 2/3ras partes.” They wrote…

          La acusación será formulada por la Cámara de Diputados, por mayoría de dos tercios. Corresponderá a la Cámara de Senadores, por mayoría absoluta de dos tercios, juzgar en juicio público a los acusados por la Cámara de Diputados y, en caso, declararlos culpables, al sólo efecto de separarlos de sus cargos…

          The language they use is the language of judicial procedure. It’s hard to imagine that in a procedure set out in those terms, the framers didn’t think the principle of audi alteram partem should apply.


          • And I’ll just add again that while this discussion is interesting and all, and while both pro-and anti-Impeachment interpretations seem defensible to me, the real issue here is that nowhere in the Paraguayan constitution does it say… “en caso de dudas sobre la pulcritud del juicio político, corresponderá a un autobusero caraqueño persuadir a la fuerza armada nacional para que desconozca el resultado del mismo…”



            • La injerencia de Maduro no está en disputa. Aunque me hubiera gustado ver/escuchar su emotiva arenga por video, y no desde el corredor dónde no se escuchaba ni un carrizo.


            • “They didn’t write “el senado podrá separar al presidente de su cargo por mayoría de 2/3ras partes.” ”

              No, the framers of the 1992 Paraguayan Constitution ruled that a 2/3rds majority vote could accuse the president, but that from that point on, he could stay on, even in his same seat if he wished.

              C’mon now.

              Btw, none of us opining know if there are any amendments to the 1992 constitution, or rules of order for the congress that would stipulate the procedures to be taken if and when art. 225 takes into effect.


              • You’re dead on, syd. Nobody here is an expert in paraguayan constitutional law. Not Toro, not House, not Walking. Nobody. Quoting the constitution over and over again in this blog is futile. Furthermore, the judiciary branch already said it was kosher.


          • Right Quico, exactly right!

            This wasn’t a whim of one body politic, but the concerted effort of TWO body politics, both of whom voted overwhelmingly to separate Mr. Lugo from his position.

            WE can argue all day long whether appearances were upheld, whether it was fair or not, whether it’s a great system or not.

            Ultimately, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the letter of the law was followed (albeit rather closely and with hardly any wiggle room).

            It’s rather pointless to lament the absence of audi alteram partem in the Paraguayan constitution. The Congress and Supreme Court don’t seem to lament it much.

            It’s very educational to see how it can be interpreted and to look to our own to apply the lessons learned.


  14. This is a typical case of “What if…?”,

    What would’ve happened if the Paraguayan congress would’ve taken several days or weeks to remove Lugo, The situation could’d gotten worse, from there the President Lugo would brought chaos just to hold the power. We’d seen that before.

    I understand that the Paraguayan Constitution does not give any timeline nor any exact procedure that have to be necessarily followed in order to remove the president, if they have 2/3 of the votes that should be enough according to their constitution. BTW, nobody mentioned it, but Lugo himself accepted the decision very quickly, and now he is taking that back? That is totally weird.

    For me Paraguayan constitution is giving more power to the congress than the President, which is totally understandable when you consider the Paraguayan history crawled with Dictators and wannabe messianic leader.


  15. It’s unfortunate that the comments have centered around Lugo’s impeachment and not Venezuela’s foreign intervention.


    • Bueno Maduro evidentemente se cayo de Maduro

      Although you can not tell wether or not Maduro really suggested to the Paraguayan Military, that they should mount a coup against the Paraguayan Congress, is another reason why Lugo should be removed.

      I mean think about it, How come a Foreign Chancellor is having a meeting with the high ranks of the Paraguayan army? As Pressident why you would allow that?

      It would be Ok if the USA Secretary of State is having a secret meeting with the high ranks of navy, army and air force of Venezuela? Or Cuban Chancellor for that matter? It piss off just thinking about it.


    • There’s no dispute over Maduro’s actions. It was already a crime for any Paraguayan to do what he did. What Maduro did was outrageous, stupid and criminal. The next administration should hand him over gift-wrapped to Paraguay.

      In Lugo’s favor you can say that he stepped down on cue like a good President should.


      • “The next administration should hand him over gift-wrapped to Paraguay.”

        I’d prefer to hand him over skewered.


  16. Somehow, I’m finding very interesting this Paraguayan political impeachment, which is pretty sui generis. The Constitution provides for the classic impeachment for the commission of a crime by the President, and a juicio político if he performs his functions badly. This resembles as a motion of no confidence in a parliamentary system. But at the same time the Constitution also provides that the latter should be pursued as a trial, which would imply some due process guarantees. A regular impeachments or a trial imply that a judge determines, objectively, if legal rules were violated. How do you determine if a President performed his functions badly without committing any crime or braking any legal rule? They are impeaching him, among other things, for his policies on crime and for having signed the second Ushuaia protocol. How do you determine if this are bad policies or not in a trial? What are the objective standard to determine if an elected official performs badly apart from committing a crime? Do you call the IMF, William Bratton or Noam Chomsky?
    Here is the writ of in Congress, where even they don’t see to distinguish what they were judging him for, if for badly performing his functions or for committing crimes http://www.ultimahora.com/adjuntos/imagenes/000/432/0000432478.pdf


    • The devil is in the details. The constitution is very fuzzy about the reasons to impeach a president or what would be the procedure for that. It’s all up to interpretation and the judiciary branch already gave its seal of approval to the whole thing.
      In the end it was not about justice or “fair trial”, but about politics. It was a mexican standoff between the President and the Congress and the Congress won. Bad luck for Mr. Padrote.
      With a nutcase who thought he was above the law (Lugo) and an aspiring imperialist “power” (Venezuela) allegedly backing a “soft” Fujimorazo in Paraguay, what else could the congress have done? Let Maduro rally some crazy army officers to shut down the congress? Let Lugo abuse the office to get away with ìt?
      Yes, they could have done it better to keep up appearances and what not, but cut Paraguay some slack. Let the guys explain themselves. There’s no need to go all fire and brimstone on them.


  17. Legal arguments are one thing, pragmatism and keeping order in the streets is another. Suppose finally Chavez is treated in a similar fashion by similar Constitutional laws in Venezuela, with virtually all his own PSUV members in Congress in agreement, as well as the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Lady Kirchner’s envoy with some maletas full of returned greenbacks is meeting with the heads of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, and the Communist Party/Colectivos are loading the red-shirted Campesino Invasores/assorted thugs on buses to take them to Caracas for a march on Congress. Also, 17 were recently killed due to the President’s illegal backing of an illegal land invasion. j And, suppose you were a member of Congress? Would you be wasting time arguing about legalese???


    • Net,

      A good point.

      These Mercosur governments are a stickler for the rules when it comes to anyone who opposes their political designs.They counter-attacked to change a situation that was to their disadvantage like Lugo being removed by getting Venezuela into Mercosur.

      Si no la gana, la empata.

      Some say that due process was not followed in Paraguay by the speed of the removal,even so, Maduro was able to make his attempt at getting the generals over to his side.Can you imagine what he could have done if he had had several weeks? Lugo would probably never have been removed .

      Some people are missing the more essential by emphasizing legal technicalities and comparing that are completely different.


    • There is an old story that goes, “When a dog urinates on a fire hydrant, it is not committing an act of vandalism. It’s just being a dog.” That is how I see Piedad Cordoba. She is an unrepentant Marxist Revolutionary, straight out of the sixties. Her only moral compass is based upon the concept that overthrowing the existing establishment in favor of her gang is a good thing, so anything that supports that is morally correct, no matter how logically inconsistent.

      Had the U.S. attempted to interfere in the internal affairs of Paraguay in the same manner as Venezuela did, she (and all the rest of LatAm) would be screaming their heads off about “Imperialismo Yanqui”. But, since it was done by her gang, that is OK and is just a “nueva forma de diplomacia”. But, like the dog above, she does not see, and can not see, the hypocrisy and moral transgression involved.


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