On Federico Franco and Paraguay’s Ongoing Struggles with Mercosur

 

Mercosur’s Review Tribunal has rejected Paraguay’s appeal regarding its suspension. The process is not yet definitively ended, however, as Paraguay is considering taking its appeal to the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, a new article from the Associated Press has taken a look at Federico Franco, the man who succeeded the ousted Fernando Lugo. In spite of the clear obstacles and turmoil Franco has had to confront in the wake of the Paraguayan Congress’s dubious use of impeachment, the article suggests Franco is “proving effective,” curiously citing his success in pushing through land reform, the very cause that led to Lugo’s eventual removal, as well as pointing to Franco’s success in levying Paraguay’s first personal income tax.

That said, the article seems more than willing to assign Franco’s success to his willingness to act more quickly than Lugo, something which Franco himself is more than happy to announce:

“In a 15-day period, we handed property titles to 74 people,” Franco said. “Do you know how many were handed in the past six months? It was handed to three people. This means here is the will, the decision to solve the land problem.”

Unquestionably, land reform is a major issue facing Paraguayan society. But to act as if Franco has some sort of personal dynamism or will that Lugo was lacking seems to conveniently gloss over just how much Congress and political opponents stood in the way of Lugo accomplishing anything. I suspect the actual implementation of some reform in the short term (which is in no way a definitive indicator of future, long-term socio-economic transformations) says less about Franco as an individual and much more about Paraguayan politics and the opposition Lugo confronted simply by not being from the same cloth as the traditional political and/or landed elite.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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