Jorge Saenz, Associated Press
ASUNCION, Paraguay — Paraguay's recently ousted president spoke out Wednesday against possible international sanctions against the country in retribution for his dismissal by Congress last week.
Some of the South American country's neighbors, including Argentina and Brazil, have condemned the rapidity of Fernando Lugo's dismissal on Friday and are expected to discuss possible sanctions against Paraguay at a meeting of the Mercosur trade bloc later this week.
But Lugo said sanctions or any other attempts to isolate the country would "end up hurting Paraguayans."
"President Lugo and his government of change do not support any action to economically punish our country," the former leader said in a statement.
Lugo earlier said he had decided against attending Friday's Mercosur summit in Mendoza, Argentina. He had previously said he would go to make his case to the region's leaders, but relented after Paraguay's new foreign minister warned that he could face legal repercussions if he tried to represent the country at the summit.
Mercosur members barred Lugo's replacement, former Vice President Federico Franco, from the gathering.
Meanwhile Wednesday, the United Nations added its voice to the chorus of concern over events in Paraguay.
The organization said in a statement that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had noted "the concern expressed by regional leaders regarding the impeachment process and its implications for democracy in the country."
"The Secretary-General urges all concerned to work in the days ahead to ensure the peaceful resolution of differences," the statement said.
Also on Wednesday, Franco said his new government would allow representatives from Mercosur and the Organization of American States, or OAS, to visit the country.
"They can come to Paraguay whenever they want to and they won't find a single traumatized citizen," Franco said at a news conference. "Life is normal."
Franco said that despite the harsh positions some countries have taken against his government, "I have nothing against Argentina or Brazil because we have very good relations with those two regional giants."
Brazil was among seven Latin American countries to call their ambassadors home for consultations following Lugo's dismissal. At a meeting of the OAS Tuesday in Washington D.C., Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador presented a resolution seeking to suspend Paraguay from the regional grouping, but it failed to win support from other nations.
Paraguay's Congress booted Lugo out of office last Friday in a fast-track procedure triggered by a deadly clash between police and landless peasants. The Senate found him guilty of "poor performance of his duties," citing a clause in the constitution that leaves wide room for congressional interpretation.
Pro-Lugo protests were held during last week's impeachment process but largely faded after Lugo left the presidential palace.
Franco intends to serve out the remainder of Lugo's term, through August 2013.
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