Mérida – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the 4th most popular president in the Americas, according to a new study of presidential approval ratings in the region.
The study, by Mexican polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, gives President Chavez a “high” approval rating of 64%, gaining 6 percentage points since the firm’s last study and jumping up the table of presidential popularity levels.
The findings come less than two weeks before Chavez seeks re-election on October 7 against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.
According to the study, which measured the approval ratings of 20 leaders in the Americas by compiling public opinion polls from their respective countries, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is the most popular president in the Americas with an “outstanding” approval rating of 80%.
“Rafael Correa repeats his first place with 80% (a point less than his previous evaluation), maintaining the approval with which his presidency began almost five years ago,” the ‘Approval of Leaders: America and the World’ report stated.
He is followed by Maurico Funes of El Salvador and Guatemalan president Otto Perez, on 72% and 69% respectively.
Chavez and Correa are joined at the top of the popularity table by other presidents considered left or centre left, with Brazil’s Dilma Roussef on 5th with 62% approval, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega on 7th place with a popularity of 59%.
Meanwhile, two months ahead of his re-election bid against Republican rival Mitt Romney, US President Barack Obama placed 10th in the study, receiving a “medium” approval rating of 49%. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was classed on a “very low” popularity of 37%, putting him down on 16th place.
The study highlights a north-south divide, with South American presidents enjoying an average approval of 50%, against 44% for leaders from the North of the hemisphere.
Many rightist presidents have dropped in popularity since the earlier 2012 study by Consulta Mitofsky, and find themselves on the bottom half of the table. Colombian president Juan Manual Santos still figures on the top half of the table with 54% approval, yet has dropped 13 percentage points and has lost his “high” approval rating.
Furthermore, Mexico’s Felipe Calderon placed 11th (46%), while Paraguayan President Federico Franco and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera share 17th place on 36%. Franco was came to power through an “institutional coup” in June by the Paraguayan Senate, and is less popular than deposed leftist president Fernando Lugo, who had 44% popularity in August 2011.
However, the findings aren’t all good news for South America’s “pink tide” governments, with 12th, 13th, and 14th places going to Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (43%), Bolivia’s Evo Morales (41%) and Peru’s Ollanta Humala (40%) respectively.
The last places in the poll are occupied by the presidents of Honduras and Costa Rica, on approval ratings of 14% and 13%. The full study in Spanish can be accessed here.
- Ecuador’s Correa and El Salvador’ Funes, leaders with the highest approval-rate (en.mercopress.com)
South American foreign ministers have suspended Paraguay from the regional trade bloc, Mercosur, over last week’s ouster of former President Fernando Lugo.
However, the bloc stopped short of imposing economic sanctions on Paraguay, which is one of the four founding members of the Mercosur bloc, along with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Paraguay was banned from this week’s summit held in Mendoza, Argenita, as the regional leaders considered the removal of the country’s first left-wing president as a parliamentary coup.
“Through a unanimous decision by Mercosur’s permanent and associate members, it has been decided– because of the events that occurred last Friday– to suspend Paraguay’s participation in this presidential summit,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on Friday at a news conference.
Last week Paraguay’s Senate removed Lugo from office after a five-hour impeachment trial. He was accused of mishandling an armed clash over a land dispute in which seven police officers and ten landless farmers were killed on June 15.
Lugo was immediately replaced by his pro-US deputy, Federico Franco. The move has prompted harsh criticism inside the country and among its neighboring nations.
South American officials said that the suspension of Paraguay will stand until “democracy is fully restored” to the country.
Bolivian President Evo Morales voiced his concerns over what happened in Paraguay, saying that his country will not “recognize a dictatorship in paraguay.”
Several South American nations have recalled their ambassadors from Paraguay’s capital Asuncion, permanently or for consultation, in a bid to show their opposition to the dismissal of a democratically elected president.
- Paraguay faces expulsion from Mercosur/Unasur, economic isolation (alethonews.wordpress.com)
President Cristina Fernández assured on Friday night that “Argentina does not condone the coup in Paraguay” and anticipated that “appropriate measures” will be taken at next week’s Mercosur Summit, scheduled to take place in Mendoza.
The Argentine leader also said that Unasur expressed a unanimous voice regarding the impeachment process that removed President Fernando Lugo from office on Friday.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff also suggested that Paraguay could be expulsed from Mercosur and Unasur since the two organizations have clauses in support of democratic rules and governance.
Speaking at a press conference before addressing the UN Rio+20 summit Rousseff said there “are anticipated sanctions for those who do not comply with the principles that characterize democracy” but admitted Paraguay was going through “a complicated situation”.
When a country violates the democratic clause the sanction is “non participation in multilateral bodies; that is expulsion from Mercosur and Unasur”.
Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa anticipated that his government “will not recognize any other Paraguayan president but Fernando Lugo”, and independently of the decisions from Lugo and Unasur “Ecuador will not recognize the new president”, Federico Franco, named by Congress.
“We are not going to remain idle to the advance of these type of issues in our region because what happened in Paraguay is absolutely illegitimate” and recalled the democratic clause from Unasur which enables the regional block to act when against the rupture of democratic order in any member country.
“What has happened in Paraguay is a big farce disguised as legality but it is totally unacceptable that the decision to oust a president was taken in 24 hours ignoring his right to due process and defence”, added Correa.
Venezuelan Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro said in Asuncion that a meeting of Unasur heads of state will take place soon to decide on the Paraguayan case, which he described as “absolutely shameful”.
Maduro is in Paraguay as one of the Unasur Foreign ministers’ delegation sent to try and mediate in the political crisis.
Unasur ministers cautioned that if due process was not respected “this would mean the rupture of cooperation of Unasur, Mercosur and Celac with Paraguay” which involves among other things cutting of subsidized fuel, limiting communications and commercial dealings.
Unasur Secretary General Ali Rodriguez said in a release that country members “will assess how it can be possible to continue cooperation with Paraguay in the framework of South American integration”, if the impeachment process ignores due process and the right to defence.
“The foreign ministers mission reaffirms its total solidarity with the Paraguayan people and its support for constitutional president Fernando Lugo”, underlined Ali Rodrigues.
Venezuela’s Maduro said that “we came (to Paraguay) with the best of willingness and open minds to help but disappointingly we were not listened by those making the decision”.
“There is an evident breaking down of constitutional order” pointed out Maduro who added the delegation arrived in Asunción “to support Paraguayan democracy, the Paraguayan people and the constitutional president Fernando Lugo”.
Maduro claims lawmakers listened in “silence and with indifference” to the Unasur request for respect to due process in the impeachment of the head of state.
- Rousseff suggests expulsion of Paraguay’s Mercosur and Unasur (ireport.cnn.com)
- Paraguayan Senate impeaches leftist president, causing international uproar (weeklyintercept.blogspot.com)
Paraguayans have clashed with police outside the Congress building in Asuncion, shortly after it was announced that the Senate had voted to remove President Fernando Lugo from office.
The lower house of the Paraguayan Congress impeached Lugo on Thursday, and the Senate opened his trial on Friday and quickly reached a guilty verdict, ousting Lugo.
Lugo was immediately replaced by Vice President Federico Franco, a ferocious opponent of the leftist leader. Franco was sworn in as the new president of Paraguay on Friday evening.
“Although the law’s been twisted like a fragile branch in the wind, I accept Congress’ decision,” Lugo said in a speech on national television after lawmakers found him guilty of performing his duties badly during a land dispute that left 17 people dead.
He added that “the history of Paraguay and its democracy have been deeply wounded.”
“Today I retire as president, but not as a Paraguayan citizen,” he said. “May the blood of the just not be spilled.”
After a five-hour trial, 39 senators voted to oust Lugo, while four senators voted against the motion, and two were absent. He was accused of mishandling an armed clash over a land dispute in which seven police officers and ten landless farmers were killed on June 15.
Earlier, Lugo had said the entire impeachment process was equivalent to a coup.
“It is more than a coup d’etat, it’s a parliamentary coup dressed up as a legal procedure,” an angry Lugo said on Paraguayan radio.
After the Senate announced the decision, several thousand Lugo supporters took to the streets to condemn the move and express support for the man they still view as the president of the country. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used water cannon to disperse the protesters.
The breakneck speed of the impeachment process raised concerns in other South American capitals, and a few dispatched their foreign ministers to Asuncion. Some countries even warned of the possibility of imposing sanctions on Paraguay.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced that his government would not recognize Franco as president.
“The government of Ecuador will not recognize any president of Paraguay other than Fernando Lugo,” said Correa, adding “true democracy is based on legality and legitimacy.”
- Venezuela Decries Attempted Coup in Paraguay (Aletho News)