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Paraguay suspended from Mercosur, no sanctions

 Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, left, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, center, and Uruguay's President Jose Mujica pose for a picture at ...
 Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, right, speaks as her Foreign Minister Hector Timerman looks on during a Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argenti...
 Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, right, addresses the Mercosur summit meeting as her Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota sits by in Mendoza, Argentin...
 Leaders, from left to right in the front row, Bolivia's President Evo Morales, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Argentina's President Cristina Fern...
 Ecuador's President Rafael Correa attends a Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argentina, Friday, June 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
 Paraguay's former President Fernando Lugo gives a press conference in Asuncion, Paraguay, Friday, June 29, 2012.  The Mercosur trade bloc decided not...

Argentina Mercosur Summit

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, left, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, center, and Uruguay's President Jose Mujica pose for a picture at ...

Argentina Mercosur Summit

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, right, speaks as her Foreign Minister Hector Timerman looks on during a Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argenti...

Argentina Mercosur Summit

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, right, addresses the Mercosur summit meeting as her Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota sits by in Mendoza, Argentin...

Argentina Mercosur Summit

Leaders, from left to right in the front row, Bolivia's President Evo Morales, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Argentina's President Cristina Fern...

Argentina Mercosur Summit

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa attends a Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argentina, Friday, June 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Paraguay Lugo

Paraguay's former President Fernando Lugo gives a press conference in Asuncion, Paraguay, Friday, June 29, 2012. The Mercosur trade bloc decided not...

The Mercosur trade bloc suspended Paraguay's membership on Friday for having impeached and ousted its president but will not slap economic sanctions on the poor, landlocked country.
The South American bloc also announced that Venezuela will become its fifth full member starting July 31.
Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was impeached by the country's Congress a week ago in a fast-track trial triggered by a land eviction that killed 17 people in clashes between police and landless peasants.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez told other heads of state at a Mercosur summit Friday that the "democratic order was broken" in Paraguay because it carried out a two-hour trial where Lugo was not allowed a proper defense. But Fernandez said Paraguay would not be slapped with economic sanctions because "they never hurt governments. They always hurt the people."
Paraguay is among South America's poorest nations and any economic sanction by the bloc would have been disastrous since half its trade is with fellow Mercosur founding members, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Mercosur barred Lugo's replacement, former Vice President Federico Franco, from attending the summit. Franco says the transition of power in Paraguay was carried out according to the law.
Lugo said at first that he would attend the meeting in order to plead his case with regional leaders but later changed his mind. He then spoke out against retaliatory economic sanctions, which he said would only hurt ordinary Paraguayans.
The landlocked country is highly dependent on beef and soybean exports and is already suffering from a recent drought that parched soy fields and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease last year that forced the slaughter of hundreds of cattle heads to prevent the spread of the contagious disease.
Paraguay, a country of red-clay earth and formidable soccer players, has a long history of dictatorships and fragile democracies. The removal of Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop whose presidency was eclipsed by a cancer diagnosis and several paternity scandals, plunged the country into a political crisis and became a top priority for regional leaders. Several governments called back their ambassadors and some called his ouster a coup.
The Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, will hold an emergency meeting Friday and could also suspend Paraguay from its organization, arguing that Lugo was not granted the defense that he deserved.
"We're sorry about the absence of Paraguay due to not having a legitimate government!" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on his Twitter account.
At the summit, Fernandez also announced that Venezuela will become a full member of the trade bloc during a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on July 31. Venezuela, an associate member, had been trying to get full status for years. Lugo supported the full-membership because he said its oil could help smaller members of the grouping, but the move had been blocked by Paraguayan lawmakers.
"This is great news ... Venezuela's full status into the Mercosur is a positive sign for more investment and integration," Alicia Barcena, head of the UN's regional economic body, ECLAC, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.
"This is one of the richest regions in minerals, fuels, we have a third of the world's water reserves and cultivable lands, more than 45 percent of soy and copper output," Barcena said. "Now with Venezuela's integration we hope that the energy integration will become a reality in the future."
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Associated Press writers Luis Andres Henao reported from Mendoza, Argentina. Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Ian James in Caracas, Venezuela contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-08 00:56 GMT+08:00