Archive for Paraguay
Venezuela has reopened its embassy in the Paraguayan capital 18 months after breaking off relations to protest the removal of Paraguay’s leader. The Venezuelan Embassy in Asuncion was closed in July 2012 after Paraguay’s congress impeached and ousted President Fernando Lugo, who was an ally of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The embassy reopened Monday.
Paraguay, which closed its embassy in Israel in 2005 for budgetary reasons, will reopen its mission here in the coming weeks in a sign of interest in closer bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry announced. Newly elected Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes informed Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the move during a meeting in Asuncion. Elkin represented Israel at his inauguration ceremony on Thursday. Israel closed its embassy in Asuncion in 2002 as a cost-saving move, and is represented in the South American country by its ambassador in Buenos Aires. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that, despite the Paraguayan announcement, Israel had no intention at this time of reopening its embassy in Paraguay. “We are closing consulates and embassies, not opening them,” the official said, adding that the decision to open a consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu will necessitate the closing of a mission somewhere else. Paraguay and Colombia were the only South American countries that did not vote for granting the Palestinians non-member statehood status in the UN General Assembly last year.
Chile reinstated its ambassador to Paraguay, Christián Maquiera, in Asunción. Maquiera was recalled in June after member states of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) decided to withdraw their ambassadors in protest at the removal of President Fernando Lugo. The Chilean Foreign Ministry announced that Maquiera would return with “the special objective of obtaining first-hand information about the situation in Paraguay and the electoral process in the run-up to the elections of April 21, 2013” and has been instructed to “make contact with all social and political sectors of Paraguay.” President Franco welcomed the news. “It’s a very good sign for us,” he told IP Paraguay. “The more ambassadors that come, the better for the country.” Columbia also announced the return of its ambassador, Jorge Barrales, this weekend. Columbia and Chile are the first countries to resume diplomatic relations with Paraguay since Lugo’s ousting.
Venezuela’s government has decided to expel Paraguay’s remaining diplomats from the country, the top envoy at the Paraguayan Embassy said Wednesday. Charge d’affaires Victor Casartelli said that he and three other Paraguayan diplomats in Caracas were told by Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry to leave within three days. Venezuelan government officials did not respond to calls seeking comment about the matter. Casartelli said that he received a call Tuesday from the Foreign Ministry informing him of the decision and that he met Wednesday with Venezuelan officials who confirmed that the four should go. The expulsion of Paraguay’s diplomats follows a bitter dispute between the countries that began in June with the congressional impeachment and ouster of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In July, the two governments withdrew their ambassadors amid rising tensions over Lugo’s removal. Chavez later said he had ordered his country’s military attaches to leave Paraguay, citing threats against diplomats. Casartelli said he was told by Venezuelan officials that when their government withdrew its diplomats, “they were waiting for Paraguay to do the same thing with us.” Since months passed and Paraguay didn’t follow suit, Venezuelan officials decided to expel the remaining diplomats, Casartelli said. He said in a phone interview that he and the other three diplomats had made plans to leave this week. One Paraguayan Embassy employee who is not a diplomat will be allowed to remain to perform consular duties, Casartelli said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he has ordered the withdrawal of his country’s military attaches from Paraguay after they received death threats amid growing tensions between the two countries. In a televised speech, Chavez did not elaborate on the threats, but said Venezuelan diplomats were accused of “preparing a coup” in Paraguay. Chavez’s order came a day after Asuncion declared “persona non grata” both Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan ambassador to Paraguay, who returned home a week ago. The Venezuelan president claimed that Paraguayan congressmen had tried to bribe Maduro during his tour to Paraguay with foreign ministers of other South American countries on the ouster of former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo. Lugo was impeached and ousted by the parliament following a deadly land dispute between landless farmers and police, which left 17 people dead. Chavez joined other leaders of neighboring countries in criticizing the ouster of Lugo by condemning it as a “coup.” Paraguay accused Venezuela of interfering in its internal affairs by trying to stymie the impeachment, claiming that Maduro met with Paraguayan military chiefs during his visit and urged them to stay loyal to Lugo. It has also recalled its diplomats in Caracas. But Chavez denied the accusations.
Paraguay faced increasing regional isolation on Monday after several of its neighbors said over the weekend they were pulling their ambassadors out of the country in the wake of the president’s impeachment, the CNN reports. Chile and Venezuela recalled their ambassadors Sunday, hours after Brazil and Uruguay — two of Paraguay’s most important neighbors — did the same. Argentina recalled its ambassador on Saturday. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also said his country is halting all shipments to Paraguay. The moves follow the lightning-quick removal from office of the president, Fernando Lugo, on Friday. The impeachment procedures appear to have been carried out in accordance with the Paraguayan constitution, but some Latin American presidents called it a coup d’etat and refused to recognize the new president, Federico Franco
Paraguay named an undocumented U.S. immigrant to run its consulate in New York, discovering his illegal status only when the man returned home to get his diplomatic papers and was denied a U.S. visa. Paraguay’s foreign ministry acknowledged that it was a mistake to name Augusto Noguera as the consulate’s “first official,” but said President Fernando Lugo annulled the decision as soon as he was informed of the U.S. Embassy’s visa denial. Noguera had been in the U.S. for about 17 years, working in construction and becoming a pillar of New York’s 20,000-strong Paraguayan community, according to Liberal Party Rep. Elvis Balbuena, who had lobbied for Lugo to name Noguera to the post. Balbuena has called for Lugo to expel the U.S. consular official who denied the visa.