Top Story — New Paraguayan President Federico Franco alleged that the Venezuelan government meddled in his country’s affairs by asking the military to support ousted former president Fernando Lugo last Friday. Franco is backing the claim by Paraguayan Defense Minister Maria Liz Arnold that Venezuela’s foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, met with Paraguayan military leaders last Friday and asked them to help keep Lugo in office. According to Arnold, the military leaders declined to do so, and Lugo was impeached by the Senate. Franco insists that his predecessor’s removal from office was completely legal, although Paraguay’s neighbors have criticized the impeachment process as a legislative coup and are suspending the country from regional bodies like Mercosur. Franco later dismissed General Angel Vallovera, who reportedly helped organize the meeting with Maduro. Venezuelan officials would not comment on the allegation.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Mexican Navy in Jalisco located the crash site of a helicopter that had four people aboard but have not yet determined if there are survivors.
- Mexico’s middle class voters will have decisive influence in the July 1 presidential elections, widely expected to go to PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.
- U.S. President Barack Obama leads rival Mitt Romney among Latino voters 66 to 26 percent, according to a poll by NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo, gaining five percentage points since May.
- The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has disseminated $2.6 million in loans and grants to help Haitian businesses and job training programs.
- Spanish bank BBVA reached a deal to sell its Puerto Rico operations to Oriental Financial Group for $500 million dollars.
- A Guatemalan court sent three dozen Mexican drug cartel members to prison for a variety of crimes, many of them violent, carried out in northern Guatemala.
- Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla appointed Javier Sancho as Costa Rica’s ambassador to Nicaragua.
- Captain Paul Watson, the head of marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, says he believes that Costa Rica struck a deal with Japan to have him extradited for a confrontation with a fishing boat Watson says was engaged in shark finning.
- British police are demanding that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leave the Ecuadorean embassy, where he has sought refuge since last week.
- The Venezuelan Supreme Court ordered the seizure of about $5.7 in assets belonging to Globovision, a TV station critical of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
- Colombia’s environmental minister said that the country hopes to have a new system in place within ten months to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to deforestation.
- Mercosur member nations at the trade bloc’s summit in Mendoza, Argentina, debated whether to suspend Paraguay from Mercosur and impose sanctions for the removal of Fernando Lugo.
- Tens of thousands of Chilean students protested in the streets on Thursday to call for educational reforms.
- FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said that Brazil is making improved progress in its preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Image: Fernando Lugo Méndez @ Flickr.