Paraguay: U.S. Intelligence Behind Return of Dictator’s Mafia

Jean-Guy Allard

There is such confidence between Federico Franco, the coup President now installed in Paraguay, and the United States embassy in the country, that Franco was there discussing the overthrow of President Fernando Lugo as early as 2009. This was revealed in a Wikileaks document in which an intelligence official refers to a conversation with Franco, then the Vice President.

The text, dated May 6, 2009, was composed by a member of the diplomatic mission (read CIA) and was brought to light later by Australian Julian Assange’s group. It notes the disagreement observed between the President and his Vice President and makes the latter’s intentions clear.

The secret report indicated that differences between Lugo and Franco were escalating, but that Franco had told the ambassador, on April 28, that he was not involved in any plan to overthrow Lugo. Franco further stated that his position was one of patience, supporting democratic institutions in Paraguay.

Federico Franco belongs to the right-wing Liberal Radical Authentic Party, the soft opposition permitted by the dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who subjected Paraguay to a bloody regime for 35 years. The coming to power of this liberal right-wing doctor, alongside the former bishop Fernando Lugo was the result of political machinations which are best understood by the traditional ruling class in this South American country.

The friendly relationship which Franco enjoyed with the U.S. embassy in Asunción demonstrates the close ties between imperialist diplomats and the Vice President, who did not hide his contempt for the “priest” whose administration he was part of.

Evidently to the yankees’ delight, he discussed and regularly shared his numerous arguments with Lugo, which emerged on almost a daily basis.

When Franco assumed the Vice Presidency, the U.S. State Department had already assigned to the embassy a figure with the necessary experience to confront an undesirable situation. The ambassador was James Cason, who had gained notoriety as the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, the CIA station that passes for a diplomatic mission in the Cuban capital.

In Asunción, Cason thought of himself as entertaining, singing folk songs in Guaraní, but did not limit himself to such pastimes. The associate of the Cuban- American mafia took pains to provoke a record number of confrontational incidents with authorities.

The current ambassador in Asunción, Liliana Ayalde, arrived to take Franco under her wing and assure his integration into plans being made by Stroessner’s followers who control the nation’s parliamentary system, and have been conspiring against President Lugo.

AN ILLUSTRATIVE INCIDENT

In March of 2010, Paraguay’s Minister of Defense, retired General Luis Bareiro Spaini was called to appear before the Chamber of Deputies as a result of his “affronts to the U.S. ambassador.”

With 41 votes in favor and four against, deputies approved a reprimand of the high ranking official for a letter he had sent to Ayalde, accusing her of intervening in Paraguay’s internal affairs.

This happened during a luncheon organized at the embassy with Vice President Federico Franco and a group of visiting U.S. army generals in attendance, when Ayalde proposed a debate at the table about the political situation in Paraguay and the possibility of impeaching President Lugo!

The Congressional opposition did not reprimand Franco, but rather General Bareiro Spaini, for “involving himself inappropriately in affairs handled by the Ministry of Foreign Relations,” while Franco’s treasonous position was not even mentioned.

The plot was already in the works.

LUGO SURROUNDED BY SHARKS

The 2010 document revealed that speculation was already underway concerning plans to remove Lugo and the degree to which the Vice President might participate.

The text refers to political actors, informants who kept an eye on Franco and reported how an agreement had been reached with the coup plotter General

Lino Oviedo to accelerate plans for an impeachment, so that the Vice President could take power, with Oveido eventually elected as Vice President.

The report from the U.S. embassy in Asunción, revealed by Wikileaks, makes reference to the interest many politicians had in cutting short Lugo’s administration. The document indicated that rumors persisted that Lino Oviedo, former President Nicanor Duarte Frutos, and/or Vice President Federico Franco, were continuing to seek ways to limit Lugo’s term

The message, sent by the embassy to the State Department in Washington, referred to “political sharks” surrounding the President and indicated that U.S. personnel in Paraguay believed that he was under a lot of pressure to resign or face impeachment, a possibility which the composers of the letter considered increasingly likely.

Informed daily of all events at the highest levels of government, taking advantage of the complicity of every “shark,” those who longed for the days of Stroessner’s iron fist only needed the U.S. embassy’s espionage services to guide their steps.

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