“I want to thank the US government and Monsanto. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Come and put all the military bases you want here. Our resources are your resources. Also, all the land-owners who sell out their country, if your only knew how your children and your children’s children would bear the consequences! Thanks to the Colorado party for all the years of betraying the people…and of course the Liberal party too, and let’s not forget the media. Thank you!”
Ahem. And now, a real (and none too flattering) profile of the unelected beauty queen in the tricolor sash:
Federico Franco, a man of the right, who grew up in the shadows of Fernando Lugo, assumed the presidency of Paraguay on Friday, after the parliament voted for the dismissal of the head of state elected by popular vote.
This director of the Authentic Liberal Party (PLRA), 49 years old, has taken the reins of the country in an illegitimate manner.
In barely two days, the most reactionary sectors of the right organized a parliamentary coup d’état and opened the way for the vice-president to take over the Paraguayan executive.
A cardiologist, and governor of the Central province between 2003 and 2007, Franco is a representative of the Paraguayan right and a declared defender of the free market against progressive processes which are unfolding on the continent.
In confrontation with Lugo since 2007, during the pre-electoral phase of the campaigns which eventually elevated the ex-bishop to the presidency, Franco said, days later, of the deposed leader: “He ignored me”.
Although the now-head of state says personal issues distanced him from Lugo, it is well known that the director of the PLRA is the figurehead in power of the business sectors, big land-owners, and transnationals in Paraguay.
In the face of the measures set in motion by Lugo, aimed at reversing the difficult social situation in the country, the sectors which support Franco today gave a show of the response they had been preparing for months: the dismissal of Lugo and the accelerated nomination of the vice-president as head of state.
In an article published by the Associated Press, Liberal ex-senator Carlos Mateo Balmelli accused Franco of fraud, when the two were competing for the presidential candidacy within the PLRA.
Senator Balmelli called him “Fraude-rico” [fraud-rich] Franco.
As well, Luis Aguayo, leader of the Co-ordinating Table of Campesino Organizations (MCNOC), says that Franco “belongs to the Liberal Party of the right, just like the Colorado Party which was in power for 60 years.” For that reason, says Aguayo, “I don’t believe in any change, we have no hope of it.”
For 60 years, the PLRA and the Colorado party (PC) ruled Paraguay, and mainly supported the military dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner. His régime (1954-1989) committed countless violations of human rights and sold off thousands of hectares of land to the highest bidder.
As vice-president, Franco showed his dedication in 2009 and 2011, when he called President Fernando Lugo a “traitor” for taking governmental measures he did not share.
During the acclamation of Franco, there was a smile on the face of Lino Oviedo, a former military putschist and founder of the ultra-right-wing National Union of Ethical Citizens (UNACE) — which confirms that, despite the Paraguayan people’s rejection, the most reactionary sectors of the country have dealt a harsh blow to Latin American democracy.
And finally, a bit of music, courtesy of Courtney Love back in the halcyon days when she was still lucid:
*Just so’s you know, the title is satire. Also a reference to the above song. Thanks for not freaking the fuck out.