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Paraguay upheaval: Is this a coup?

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Jorge Saenz/AP

(Read caption) People protest lawmakers' approval to begin proceedings to impeach Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo outside Parliament in the Plaza de Armas in Asuncion, Paraguay, June 21.

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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, The views expressed are the author's own.

The events in Paraguay this week are complicated and fast moving. I reserve my right to change my opinion as events occur and more facts are revealed. I think this is a tough debate without clear answers.
In my opinion, President Lugo has not done anything that is an impeachable offense. You don't have to agree with Lugo's politics to believe that his removal would be a sad moment for Paraguayan democracy. Lugo is the first president following seven decades of Colorado Party rule. Long term democracy building will be weakened because he is not able to finish his term.
I'm hesitant to use the word "coup" when talking about the events this week because Lugo's opponents are following the constitutional impeachment process to the letter. I reserve the term coup or "golpe de estado" for events in which democratic institutions break and an unconstitutional change of government takes place. That's not what happened here. Lugo's opponents are following the letter of the law perfectly.


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