ASUNCION, Paraguay – Ousted Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo fought back Sunday against the politicians who engineered his dismissal, setting up an alternative government and pledging to upstage Paraguay’s new leaders at an upcoming regional summit.
Lugo’s new stance marked a dramatic about-face from just two days earlier when it seemed he would go meekly into retirement after the country’s Congress overwhelmingly voted to impeach him.
Since then, Lugo has received a flood of support from South American nations, including the Mercosur trade bloc, which suspended Paraguay from taking part in a summit set to start today in Mendoza, Argentina.
Mercosur nations expressed “their most energetic condemnation of the rupture of democratic order” in Paraguay, read a joint statement issued by the Argentine Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his government will cut off fuel sales to the poor South American country. Venezuela had become a key supplier to Paraguay as Chavez built close ties with Lugo, a moderate leftist.
The developments set back efforts by newly sworn-in President Federico Franco, who over the weekend mounted efforts to justify Lugo’s removal and fend off criticism from regional leaders calling the action an institutional coup.
Lugo said he will attend the Mendoza summit and even hand over the rotating presidency of another regional bloc, Unasur, to Peru next week, months before it is due to switch in November.
“I will not collaborate with Franco’s government because it is bogus. It has no legitimacy,” Lugo said.
His former Cabinet ministers announced that they were establishing a parallel government to continue Lugo’s policies and would meet on matters of state today.