U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the ranking member of the Senate's Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Global Narcotics Affairs, issued the following statement regarding the developing situation in Paraguay, where the Congress recently removed President Fernando Lugo from power:
"While the swiftness of President Lugo's removal may be jarring, the most important criteria to invoke is whether the democratic order has been violated. So far, talk of 'coups' in Paraguay is misplaced, as there are no indications that the Paraguayan Congress has violated its constitution.
"As the OAS prepares to meet on this matter, I urge Secretary General Insulza to ensure a respectful debate at the OAS that respects Paraguay's democratic order and remains true to the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Undemocratic forces in the hemisphere should not be allowed to take advantage of this situation to advance their own authoritarian agenda and weaken the regional consensus on democratic values.
"I urge the Obama Administration to work with the Paraguayan government and people to help reinforce democratic governance in their country, as its handling of this matter could have repercussions in other countries in Latin America and elsewhere that have recently transitioned from authoritarianism. In the end, democratic governance is best achieved when free institutions are allowed to work, and the Administration should allow Paraguay's democratic system to work its will before rushing into a misguided conclusion.
"I respect President Lugo's early commitment to submit himself to the will of Paraguay's democratic institutions, even if the result is ultimately not to his liking. I hope he continues to make that commitment as Paraguayans debate this situation and work to reinforce their hard-earned democratic gains."