The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Return to democratic rule in Paraguay
On behalf of over 618,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE),
we urge the Canadian government to join the calls from around the world for the return to democratic rule in Paraguay, and for a peaceful solution to what amounts to the coup d’état that took place onJune 23, 2012.
For 61 years, Paraguay was controlled by the Colorado Party, a one party dictatorship that ruled
the country under what amounted to martial law. Elections were heavily rigged, opponents were harassed and intimidated, and Indigenous peoples who rejected being relocated from their lands to make way for foreign multinationals were displaced or massacred. In 2008, Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who comes from the tradition of liberation theology, was democratically elected. Since his election, he has been fighting for the rights
of the poor against the wealthy land-holding class.
This past week, the Paraguayan Congress, dominated by parties who support the traditional landed oligarchy in the country, found Fernando Lugo guilty of mishandling the armed
clashes over a land eviction in which 17 people died including police and peasant farmers.
This resulted in Lugo’s impeachment from office. It is clear that the President had no direct responsibility for what took place, and that the impeachment is an excuse to overthrow
the democratically elected President Fernando Lugo. We underline that the so-called impeachment did not follow due process, violating article 17 of Paraguay’s constitution
which provides for the right to an adequate defense.
We were disappointed to read that Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs refers to the situation in Paraguay as an expression of democratic order. Instead, this action represents a rupture of the democratic order, leading to destabilization in Paraguay
and across the region that cannot be tolerated.
- We call on the Canadian government to condemn the attempted coup and refuse to recognize the new regime of Federico Franco.
- We call on the Canadian government to join calls for the immediate and unconditional restoration of the democratically elected president of Fernando Lugo.
- We call on the Canadian government to withdraw its ambassadors from Paraguay until democracy has been restored.