Fernando Lugo

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Fernando Lugo
Lugo-wef.jpg
Fernando Lugo at the World Economic Forum in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, April 2010.
Senator of Paraguay
Incumbent
Assumed office
30 June 2013
President of Paraguay
In office
15 August 2008 – 22 June 2012
Vice President Federico Franco
Preceded by Nicanor Duarte
Succeeded by Federico Franco
President pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations
In office
29 October 2011 – 22 June 2012
Preceded by Bharrat Jagdeo
Succeeded by Ollanta Humala
Personal details
Born Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez
(1951-05-30) 30 May 1951 (age 62)
San Solano, Paraguay
Political party Patriotic Alliance for Change (2007–2010)
Frente Guasú (2010– )
Children Guillermo Armindo Lugo Carrillo
Alma mater Catholic University of Our Lady of Asuncion
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature

Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez (Spanish pronunciation: [ferˈnando arˈmindo ˈluɣo ˈmendes]; born 30 May 1951) is a Paraguayan politician who was President of Paraguay from 2008 to 2012. Previously he was a Roman Catholic priest and bishop, serving as Bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro from 1994 to 2005. He was elected as President in 2008. In 2012, he was removed from office through an impeachment process that neighboring countries deemed a coup d'état.[1] In 2013, he was elected to the Paraguayan Senate in general elections.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

He received his basic education at a religious school in Encarnación, and sold snacks on the streets.[citation needed]

His family was not particularly religious; by his own account, he never saw his father set foot in a church.[citation needed] However, they were active in politics, in opposition to the Stroessner government. His maternal uncle, Epifanio Méndes Fleitas, was a Colorado Party dissident and was persecuted and exiled by the regime. His father was imprisoned twenty times, and some of his elder siblings were sent into exile.

Priesthood[edit]

His father wanted Lugo to become a lawyer, but at 18 Lugo entered a normal school, and began teaching in a rural community. He was well accepted by the community, which was very religious, but they had no priest. He said later that he was touched by that experience, and so discovered his vocation to the Roman Catholic priesthood. At age 19 he entered a seminary operated by the Society of the Divine Word. He was ordained a priest on 15 August 1977. He was sent to Ecuador, where he served as a missionary for five years. In Ecuador he learned about liberation theology.

Lugo returned to Paraguay in 1982, and after a year, the regime's police asked Church authorities that he be expelled from the country. The Church complied, sending him to Rome for further academic studies.[citation needed] Lugo came back to Paraguay in 1987, two years before the Stroessner dictatorship's fall. Lugo was ordained a bishop on 17 April 1994, and received charge of the nation's poorest diocese, in the San Pedro diocese.[4]

Lugo resigned his ordinary from the Diocese of San Pedro on 11 January 2005. He had requested laicization in order to run for office. However, the Holy See refused the request on the grounds that bishops could not undergo laicization, and also denied him the requested canonical permission to run for civil elected office.[5] However, after Lugo won the presidential election, the Church granted his laicization.[6]

Political career[edit]

Without doubt it is possible to resurrect a country like Paraguay. We are people of hope, of faith, and I won't be the one killing that hope of the people. I do believe we will resurrect this country, a country deeply drowned in misery, poverty and discrimination. Because I do believe Paraguay could be different. I do not lack faith in this flock. Where there is a scream coming from the poor people, where there is sweat, where people are shoeless, we will be there. Because in such people there is a resurrection; if that exists there, then there is resurrection for Paraguay.
 
— Fernando Lugo[7]

Lugo jumped to the national arena by backing peasant claims for better land distribution. During 2006, opinion polls published by Diario ABC Color newspaper showed him as a possible choice for the opposition's presidential candidacy. Known as "the bishop of the poor", Lugo was seen in subsequent months as the most serious threat to the dominance of the Colorado Party on Paraguayan politics. Although he said he found the presidency of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela interesting, he made a point to distance himself from leftist leaders in Latin America, focusing more on social inequality in Paraguay. On 23 February 2007, a Prensa Latina article noted that the Paraguayan Interior Ministry offered Lugo protection because of the death threats he received during the course of his political activities.[8]

Presidential candidacy[edit]

According to a poll in February 2007, he was the leading contender in the April 2008 presidential election, with more than 37% of the voters' intention.[9] On 29 October 2007, he registered as member of the small Christian Democratic Party of Paraguay (CDP), which allowed him to file as a candidate.[10]

The CDP became the core of the Patriotic Alliance for Change, a coalition of more than a dozen opposition parties and social movements which backed Lugo for President. Federico Franco of the centrist Authentic Radical Liberal Party, Paraguay's largest opposition party, was the candidate for Vice President.[11]

The legality of Lugo's candidacy was questioned, because Article 235 of the Constitution forbids clerics of any religious denomination to hold elective office, and Pope Benedict XVI had rejected Lugo's resignation from the priesthood.[12] However, on 16 November 2007, President Nicanor Duarte Frutos (also Chairman of the Colorado Party) announced that the Party would not object to Lugo's candidacy,[13] In July 2008, the Pope laicized Lugo, which made the question moot.[14]

President[edit]

On 20 April 2008, Lugo won the election by a margin of 10 percentage points, although far short of a majority. The Colorado Party candidate, Blanca Ovelar, acknowledged that Lugo had an unassailable lead and conceded the race that same night at about 9 pm local time. Two hours later, President Duarte acknowledged that the Colorados had lost an election for the first time in 61 years. Lugo's swearing in marked the first time in Paraguay's history (the country gained independence in 1811) that a ruling party peacefully surrendered power to an elected member from the opposition.[15] He became Paraguay's second leftist president (the first being Rafael Franco, who served from 1936 to 1937), and the first to be freely elected.

Lugo was sworn in as President on 15 August 2008, saying he would not accept the presidential salary because it "belongs to more humble people" and encouraged other politicians to refuse their salaries as well.[16]

He initially named Alejandro Hamed as his foreign minister. During the campaign, Lugo had suggested that he would switch diplomatic relations from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the People's Republic of China,[17] thereby depriving the ROC of its last diplomatic ally in South America. However after the inauguration, which had been attended by President Ma Ying-jeou from Taiwan, Lugo stated that he had no plans to switch recognition.[18]

On 18 August 2008, Lugo named Margarita Mbywangi, a member of the Aché indigenous ethnic group, as secretary of indigenous affairs, the first indigenous person to hold such a position in Paraguay.[19]

Two of the main promises of Lugo's presidential campaign were tackling corruption and encouraging land reform. A number of initiatives were introduced to improve the lives of Paraguay's poor, such as investments in low-income housing,[20] the introduction of free treatment in public hospitals,[21][22] and the introduction of cash transfers for Paraguay's most impoverished citizens.[23]

Cabinet[edit]

Impeachment[edit]

On 15 June 2012, seventeen people were killed in a clash between landless farmers and the police who were trying to evict them; some sources consider that all this was taken as a pretext to expel Lugo.[25] The Chamber of Deputies cited this event as well as insecurity, nepotism and a controversial land purchase to vote 76 to 1 to impeach Lugo on 21 June 2012.[26] The Senate took up the case the next day.[27] The impeachment was attended by a delegation of Foreign Affairs ministers from the other nations of the Union of South American Nations.[28] The vote ended with 39 votes for Lugo's removal and four for his continuity, which ended his mandate and turned Federico Franco into the new president of Paraguay.[29] Lugo announced that he would denounce the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, stating that the time to prepare a legal defence, just two hours, may be unconstitutional.[30] The removal of Lugo was followed by demonstrations by his supporters.[29]

The presidents of Paraguay's neighbouring countries rejected Lugo's removal from office, and compared it to a coup d'état. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff proposed suspending Paraguay's membership in Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic announced that they would not recognize Franco as president.[31] Condemnation also came from more conservative governments in the region, such as Colombia and Chile. Lugo's removal has drawn comparisons[32][33] to the ouster of Honduras' Manuel Zelaya in 2009; like the ouster of Lugo it was defended as legal and constitutional by its supporters while being denounced as a coup across the Latin American political spectrum.[1]

Lugo himself accepted his ouster, saying that any legal and realistic chance of reinstating him ended when the Supreme Court of Paraguay declared his impeachment and confirmed his removal, and the electoral court recognized Franco as the new president. However, he denounced it as "a congressional coup."[34]

Senatorial candidacy[edit]

In the 2013 election to replace his interim presidential replacement Lugo ran as a senate candidate.[35] He was elected as member of Paraguayan Senate representing left-wing coalition Frente Guasú.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

As Lugo was unmarried, he announced the designation of his elder sister, Mercedes Lugo, as First Lady of Paraguay.

In August 2010, Lugo was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He continued his duties as president of Paraguay while undergoing treatment.[36]

He also studied at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Orsi, Peter (2012-06-24). "Does Paraguay risk pariah status with president's ouster?". Associated Press. 
  2. ^ a b Partido Colorado se alzó como primera fuerza política en Paraguay — teleSUR
  3. ^ a b http://frenteguasu.org.py/el-fg-no-defraudara-la-confianza-del-pueblo-afirma-lugo
  4. ^ "Interview with Fernando Lugo, by César Sanson for Agência Brasil de Fato"[dead link]
  5. ^ Article regarding Lugo's laicization (in Spanish)[dead link]
  6. ^ "Paraguay's president, ex-bishop, granted lay status". Catholic World News. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2008. 
  7. ^ "Rise of the Red Bishop", The Guardian Weekly, 14 August 2008.
  8. ^ "Noticias de Prensa Latina – Home". Plenglish.com. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 1 February 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Angus Reid Consultants". Angus-reid.com. Retrieved 1 February 2012. [dead link]
  10. ^ "El ex obispo Fernando Lugo se afilió al Partido Demócrata Cristiano" (in Spanish). ABC Digital. 31 May 2008. 
  11. ^ "¿Quién es Federico Franco, el nuevo presidente paraguayo?" [Who is Federico Franco, the new Paraguayan president?] (in Spanish). La Nación. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Impugnación de Lugo será tratada por el comité ejecutivo de la ANR", abc.com.py (Spanish).
  13. ^ "Catholic World News: Suspended bishop cleared as presidential candidate in Paraguay". Cwnews.com. 16 November 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Paraguay: Special Dispensation for President-Elect". The New York Times. 31 July 2008. 
  15. ^ "Nicanor reconoce la derrota del Partido Colorado"
  16. ^ "Latin America's left wing swells with new Paraguay president", AFP, 15 August 2008.
  17. ^ "Fernando Lugo Méndez". http://topics.nytimes.com. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  18. ^ "View". redOrbit. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  19. ^ "'The Bishop of the Poor': Paraguay's New President Fernando Lugo Ends 62 Years of Conservative Rule". Democracynow.org. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  20. ^ We have moved!
  21. ^ "PARAGUAY: Mixed Results for Lugo's First 100 Days – IPS". Ipsnews.net. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ "The boy and the bishop". The Economist. 30 April 2009. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Lugo's cabinet sworn in". El Pueblo Presidente. 15 August 2008. [dead link] (Spanish)
  25. ^ "The announced coup" (in Spanish). Brecha (Montevideo). 2012-06-22. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Paraguay president faces impeachment after deadly clash", Mariano Castillo, CNN, 21 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo faces impeachment", BBC, 21 June 2012.
  28. ^ "Unasur delegation travels to Paraguay to ensure ‘democratic system integrity’". Mercopress. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  29. ^ a b "'Institutional coup' removes Paraguayan president Lugo from office". Merco Press. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  30. ^ "Paraguay: el Congreso destituyó al presidente Lugo" [Paraguay: the Congress deposed president Lugo] (in Spanish). La Nación. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  31. ^ "Argentina 'no convalidará el golpe en Paraguay' mientras que Brasil sugirió que quedaría fuera de la Unasur y el Mercosur" [Argentina 'will not support the coup in Paraguay' and Brazil suggested that it would be left out of Unasur and Mercosur] (in Spanish). La Nación. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  32. ^ Van Auken, Bill (2012-07-03). "Covert US Op: The Paraguayan Coup". 
  33. ^ "Paraguay likely to return long-dominant conservative party after brush with leftist bishop". 2013-04-20. [dead link]
  34. ^ Reuters, 26 June 2012, Paraguay's Lugo says only miracle can reinstate him
  35. ^ "Tobacco magnate wins Paraguay election". Al Jazeera (in English). 22 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  36. ^ "BBC News: Paraguay President Fernando Lugo diagnosed with cancer". 7 August 2010. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Oscar Páez Garcete
Bishop of San Pedro
1994–2005
Succeeded by
Adalberto Martínez Flores
Political offices
Preceded by
Nicanor Duarte
President of Paraguay
2008–2012
Succeeded by
Federico Franco
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Bharrat Jagdeo
President pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations
2011–2012
Succeeded by
Ollanta Humala