Paraguay hardens U.S. military stance
By Pedro Servin
10/04/06 "AP" -- -- ASUNCION, Paraguay - Paraguay's decision to
refuse diplomatic immunity for U.S. troops and not to renew a
military cooperation pact sparked debate Tuesday, with analysts
calling the developments a blow to U.S. attempts to improve
Foreign Minster Ruben Ramirez said Monday that Paraguay and
Washington would not renew a defense-cooperation agreement for
2007 over the South American country's refusal to grant U.S.
troops inside Paraguay immunity from prosecution by the
International Criminal Court.
The Bush administration has stood tough against the ICC since
its creation in 2002 out of concern that Americans overseas,
including military personnel, diplomats and ordinary citizens,
could be subject to politically motivated prosecutions.
Last May, Paraguay approved the entry of some 400 U.S. troops
for joint military exercises, such as programs on fighting urban
terrorists, public security and humanitarian assistance.
Ramirez said the government determined that under international
treaty law, exceptions to immunity can only be made in cases of
foreign diplomats and administrative personnel.
He said U.S. military exercises scheduled through Dec. 1 would
Washington had no immediate response to Paraguay's announcement.
Radio journalists debated on Tuesday whether Duarte's government
should have gone along with the U.S. requests. Supporters cited
the advantages of a good military relationship with the U.S.,
while others argued the U.S. hadn't helped Paraguay in the way
European and Asian nations had, such as with road, hospital,
school and infrastructure projects.
Michael Shifter, of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in
Washington, said the move shows the U.S. is losing influence in
"My guess is there was a lot of pressure on the Paraguayans to
fall more in line with Brazil and other Mercosur countries in
terms of not having a special military relationship with the
United States," he said. "I do think it's a further setback for
the U.S. in terms of its influence and its objectives in the
The other members of the Mercosur trade bloc - Argentina,
Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela - have so far refused to grant
immunity to U.S. troops. All four nations have in recent years
elected leftist governments critical of U.S. policy.
The ICC, a United Nations creation, was set up in an attempt to
ensure that perpetrators of genocide or crimes against humanity
are brought to justice.
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