On what he described as the “first and last time” he will address the United Nations General Assembly, the President of Paraguay, Federico Franco Gomez, affirmed that his country will not abide by any infringement on its sovereignty.
“Here, before humanity's highest assembly, I expressly declare that Paraguay will never accept intervention by foreign powers in its internal affairs,” President Franco told the third day of the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York.
“We will continue building upon our democracy according to the will of the Paraguayan people, sovereignty exercised through our freely elected institutions,” he added.
In June, the landlocked South American country experienced a political crisis, with President Gomez’s predecessor – Fernando Lugo – removed from office through an impeachment process instigated by the country’s National Congress.
Then serving as Vice President, Mr. Franco assumed the office of President. “Since then, in accordance with the oath of office, I govern Paraguay peacefully and democratically, fully respecting public liberties,” he noted.
The events led to a fact-finding mission led by the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as an extraordinary meeting of the Heads of State of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Subsequently, UNASUR, as well as the members of the South Common Market – known by the Spanish-language acronym MERCOSUR – adopted sanctions against Paraguay “without allowing it to exercise its right to defend itself, as clearly expressed in the international agreements that are invoked for the application of sanctions,” President Franco said.
“In violation of international treaties, these countries have attempted to become the custodians of Paraguayan democracy, putting aside the principle of non-intervention consecrated in our United Nations Charter,” he said.
Throughout its history, he continued, Paraguay has suffered repeatedly as a result of “arrogant intervention” in its internal affairs.
“The holocaust known as the War of the Triple Alliance, resulting from an unjustifiable coalition that decimated Paraguay's population and destroyed its economy has still not faded from the memory of my people,” he said, adding that every right enshrined in human rights agreements signed in the UN and OAS frameworks has been respected.
“In the short time of my government, our detractors have not been able to point out a single violation of the agreements we have mentioned,” he added.
Other topics mentioned in President Franco’s speech included sustainable development, UN reform, transnational crime human rights, gender issues and UN peacekeeping, with the latter being an area in which the Latin American country has contributed its troops.
The Paraguayan President is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.