Venezuela admitted as full member of the MERCOSUR
On June 29, 2012, Venezuela was accepted as full member of MERCOSUR, while Paraguay was formally suspended due to the June 22 putsch. MERCOSUR is an EU-styled agreement between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay; Venezuela had signed a membership agreement in 2006, but was unable to join since the extremist, right-wing Paraguayan Congress refused to ratify the agreement. Yesterday, Paraguay was suspended until democratic elections take place; these are planned for next year. After the suspension, the remaining MERCOSUR members had ratified Venezuela’s joining agreement, thus in the same session—held in Mendoza, Argentina—it was announced that Venezuela’s official inauguration to the trade bloc will take place on July 31 in Río de Janeiro, Brazil. Does that mean that the American-backed putsch failed?
The Paraguayan putsch was odd since it came just a few months ahead of general elections. It was performed by a Machiavellian manipulation of the Paraguayan Constitution adopted after the end of the appalling military dictatorship of General Stroessner, who was a close ally of the USA. After the impeachment process was begun, a new law was rushed through to allow the lightning-fast procedure. Incredibly, the impeachment began on Thursday and was over on Friday. What was the rush? President Lugo was successfully implementing reforms that were opening the Paraguayan society, an oligarchy run by landowners. Former American President George W. Bush is among these. The parliamentary putsch was initiated after the occupation of lands by landless farmers in Canindeyu, an area in the fertile northeastern part of the country, ended in violent clashes with the police on June 15. Eleven farmers and six policemen died in the incident. Landowners decided to restore the old order before it was too late.
The fact this was a putsch run by the landowners was evident even while the parliamentary crime was being perpetrated. Federico Franco, who was Vice President at the moment—found time to give an outrageous interview to the CNN. “Is it true that 2% of the Paraguayan people own 80% of the country’s lands?” The CNN reporter asked in what looked like a question requested by Mr. Franco himself. “That is not true! 10% of the people own 80% of the land,” countered the soon to become president. Not surprisingly, the CNN report was highly partial; the shooting at protesters next to the Congress and the brutal takeover of the Paraguayan Public TV by the police were not reported by the American network. Following the successful impeachment, the former Vice President runs the country until the elections scheduled for next year. The militaristic Colorado party—which in the past was led by General Stroessner—is expected to return to power then.
The no-reaction—at least no-condemnation—of the putsch by the American government-which on paper supports democracy-is odd, especially considering that soon the power in Paraguay will be handed to the militaristic party which was an important ally of the USA during Operation Condor and other events related to the Cold War. One must seriously consider the option that this was an American-backed putsch, in the best fashion of the 20th century. Then, there is the Bush involvement.
Bush Involved in the Putsch?
It is difficult to find reliable reports on George W. Bush land ownership in Paraguay. The data brought here was compiled from the British Guardian—a respectable enough source—and from various South American media sources. On October 23, 2006, The Guardian reported “Rumours of Mr. Bush’s supposed forays into South American real estate surfaced during a recent 10-day visit to the country by his daughter Jenna Bush. Little is known about her trip to Paraguay, although officially she travelled with the UN children’s agency UNICEF to visit social projects. Photographers from the Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color tracked her down to one restaurant in Paraguay’s capital Asunción, where she was seen flanked by 10 security guards, and was also reported to have met Paraguay’s president, Nicanor Duarte, and the US ambassador to Paraguay, James Cason. Reports in sections of the Paraguayan media suggested she was sent on a family ‘mission’ to tie up the land purchase in the ‘chaco.’” Chaco is the name of the semi-arid lowland divided between Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina; the first two fought a bloody war over it in the 20th Century. The war was encouraged by oil-companies, which sought control over hypothetical oil fields. “Erasmo Rodríguez Acosta, the governor of the Alto Paraguay region where Mr. Bush’s new acquisition supposedly lies, told one Paraguayan news agency there were indications that Mr. Bush had bought land in Paso de Patria, near the border with Brazil and Bolivia,” the newspaper added. There are reports also involving Neil Bush, brother of the former American President, in the purchase. There is no need to rely on newspapers; official sources also commented on the issue.
In 2006, Luis D. Elia, Undersecretary for the Social Habitat in the Argentine Federal Planning Ministry, issued a memo partially reproduced by digital INFOBAE.com, in which he spoke of the purchase by Bush of a 98,842-acre farm in northern Paraguay, between Brazil and Bolivia. He considered this Bush step counterproductive for regional power policies expressed by Presidents Nestor Kirchner (Argentina), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Fidel Castro (Cuba). He added that “it is a bad signal that the Bush family is doing business with natural resources linked to the future of MERCOSUR.” The farm is not only large; it sits atop a vast field of natural gas. Moreover, it is near the Guaraní Aquifer, one of the world’s largest fresh water reserves. It is so large that it could provide 100 liters of water to every human for 200 years! As of now, the farm is inactive.
“This is just another Conspiracy Theory!”
The fact that the Bush family owns a ranch in Paraguay doesn’t make it part of a local putsch. That is for sure; yet, there are worrying signs that the landowners hit on democracy may have been influenced by this case. Paraguayan newspaper “E’a” reported in September 2011 on an ongoing investigation regarding the illegitimacy of the purchase. Apparently, the farm was bought with the silent help of the militaristic Colorado party which was in power back then. A fence was placed all around the farm, trapping native groups inside the area. The farm is inactive, and thus it violates the Paraguayan Constitution. In other words, the land belongs to the native groups and to the Bush family. Eventually, had the recently deposed elected government been allowed to implement its policies, the ranch would have been confiscated from the Bush family. Is that a good-enough reason for an American-backed putsch in Paraguay?