Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo fired the head of the armed forces Nov. 6, two days after he sacked the commanders of the army, navy and air force amid rumors of a coup. Rear Admiral Ciber Benitez was replaced him with Gen. Juan Oscar Velázquez, who was dismissed as army commander. Before the shake-up, Lugo warned that there were “pockets of coup-plotters” in the armed forces. However, a statement issued by the president’s office said the changes were part of a “normal and legal administrative process” that should not be considered any indictment on the officers’ record. The statement said “there is no reason they should be the subject of speculation.”
In an interview with AlJazeera, Lugo said that while a coup was highly unlikely, “there are a few people that continue to have a relationship with politicians nostalgic of the past that could adventure into something like that, even if I think it impossible.” He told the New York Times: “I can assure you as commander in chief of the armed forces that, institutionally, there is no danger of a military coup. There could be small military groups that are connected to or could be used by the political class, but institutionally, the military does not show any intent of reversing the process of democratic consolidation.” (AP, AlJazeera, NYT, Nov. 4)
See our last post on Paraguay.