Paraguay, Venezuela Move Closer After Bitter Dispute

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 08:15 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Paraguay’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has named a new ambassador to Venezuela, another step toward full normalization of ties that were damaged last year in the wake of then-Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo’s impeachment, MercoPress reported Wednesday.

The new ambassador will likely be veteran diplomat Enrique Jara, who will assume the position once President Horatio Cartes formally signs off on the choice in the coming days.

Ties between the two governments have been frayed since last year, when the Paraguayan Congress impeached and removed Lugo from office amid claims that he was behaving erratically and had become too close to then-Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay retaliated on Caracas’ behalf by suspending Paraguay from the South American political organization Mercosur until such time as its democratic process was “restored,” according to a report in World Politics Review.    

At the same, Mercosur welcomed Chavez’s Venezuela into the organization.

Diplomatic tensions between Asuncion and Caracas were further exacerbated when then-Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro (now that nation’s president) was tape-recorded shortly after Lugo’s impeachment attempting to persuade Paraguay’s top military commander to stage a coup in favor of the deposed president.

Maduro’s proposal was rejected. But he remains persona non grata in Paraguay, and he was not invited to Cartes’ presidential inauguration, according to World Politics Review.

Maduro has since apologized for trying to circumvent the Paraguayan Congress, and sent his foreign minister to Asuncion earlier this month in an effort to mend ties — the first high-level visit since relations between the two states imploded last July.

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