[UPDATE] The Dream Ends? Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo Impeached in a "Golpe"

UPDATE: Fernando Lugo is Deposed as President. Federico Franco will be Inaugurated. The vote was 39 to condemn him, 2 absent, 4 to absolve him. The supposed cause is a deadly fire-fight last Friday where 6 police and 11 landless farmers died.

President Fernando Lugo, after the Deputies vote to impeach him, insists that he won't resign, that congress is acting against the Paraguayan electorate, and that he'll respect the constitutional process of impeachment. Photo from ABC Color.
Paraguay's congress has voted to impeach Fernando Lugo, the first non-Colorado Party president in living memory, a former Bishop who was brought to the presidency in a dramatic grassroots election in 2008. Keep in mind that Lugo's term was supposed to end in 2013 and so Paraguay is in the throes of campaigning for the 2013 elections. Although this move is "constitutional" on the part of the parliament, popular opinion (even of those who didn't vote for him) is that this was a golpe, a coup by the parliament to overthrow a democratically-elected president and install a new political coalition. People are gathering in the streets to protest. An online poll by Última Hora shows 54% of responders disagree with the ousting of Lugo.

Lugo's accusers. h/t Occu.Py

How did this happen? And, what does this mean for Paraguay?

The short answer is this: Lugo's coalition government has always been a fragile alliance and after a number of dramatic political events of the past three weeks, the major political parties have united to impeach Lugo in favor of his vice president Federico Franco (Liberal Party). This is being called a "coup" by many in Paraguay--including those who disagree with Lugo--because it's seen as a power move by congress. And it's being called a "coup" by government officials from other countries in Latin America.

In late May, a broad movement called Occu.Py, consisting of young people across the political spectrum, began a series of protests against Paraguay's congress for anti-democratic actions (creating new government jobs solely for vote-buying, rejecting a ban against "listas sábanas"--the current practice where you can only for a party, not for individual candidates). Occu.Py's momentum has grown and looked like it would create new electoral opportunities in 2013.

And then a massacre happened. [Video Here] Last Friday, a group of police officers attempted to remove a group of landless peasants (campesinos) from land that they were occupying in Eastern Paraguay. The peasants claimed that the land on which they'd built their homes was illegally claimed by a former Colorado Party senator (this was later backed up). As the police entered the estate in Curuguaty, shots rang out. A fire fight erupted and at the end, 6 police officers and 11 peasants were killed. It was recorded on a cellphone camera and gives ammunition to the claim that the peasants started it.  Because Lugo is seen as a supporter of the campesinos and a leftist, this was framed as the result of his policies.

This gave congress all the ammunition they needed to impeach Lugo and put in his place the old guard of traditional parties. On Thursday June 21, 2012, the lower house--Chamber of Deputies--voted to impeach Lugo. The Senate, which has the final vote, gave Lugo 17 hours to prepare against the final vote, to be held on Friday, June 22, 2012.

It looks like Lugo's former allies, the Liberal Party, have made a deal with one of their rival parties (probably UNACE--a group of former Colorados led by multi-billionaire drug-trafficker Lino Oviedo, who attempted a coup in 1996 and accused of planning the assassination of vice president Luis Argaña in 1999) so that Federico Franco will assume the presidency, leading a coalition government.

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