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March 24, 1999


The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today strongly condemned Tuesday’s assassination of Paraguay’s Vice Luis María Argaña in Asunción. The Council observed a moment of silence in his memory.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador, Lionel Hurst, opened the meeting referring to the assassination as a brutal act, and expressed the hope that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. "On behalf of the Permanent Council of the OAS, I wish to convey our sincere condolences to his family and to the government and people of Paraguay," said Ambassador Hurst, who is chairman of the Permanent Council.

Paraguay’s Ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Víctor Montanaro, expressed appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy over the assault, and read a press release his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on the assassination of the Vice President.

Speaking on behalf of the MERCOSUR countries plus Chile, the Alternate Representative of Argentina, Juan José Arcuri, deplored the use of violence. He said "the assassination of Dr. Argaña is a very grave act and an assault on Paraguay’s democratic institutions that has thrown MERCOSUR into mourning." United States Ambassador Víctor Marrero reiterated the statement by his government expressing condolences to the people and government of Paraguay. In that statement, added the Ambassador, "we firmly condemn the assassination of Vice President Argaña and insist that violence should not be used as a form of political solution."

Ambassador Marlene Fernández of Bolivia, meanwhile, read a statement by President Hugo Bánzer Suárez condemning the crime and calling on the government of Paraguay to investigate the attack and punish the perpetrators. Guatemala’s Ambassador, Alfonso Quiñonez, speaking for the Central American countries, expressed their "condemnation and repudiation of the vicious and despicable act of violence," expressing the hope that "calm, good sense and harmony would prevail at this most difficult time for our sister country."

Guyana’s Ambassador, Odeen Ishmael, conveyed the Caribbean countries’ "deep regret at the loss of the distinguished Vice President of Paraguay," and warned that there were certain forces that did not want emerging democracies to prosper and mature. "It is very sad that Dr. Argaña had to fall victim to that cause," he said.

Condemning the act as "such a despicable crime," Ambassador Peter Boehm of Canada declared: "Today is a sad day for the Americas." The Alternate Representative of Peru, Elizabeth Astete, also expressed condolences and read a press release issued by the Peruvian government, lamenting "the painful developments."

Through its Ambassador to the OAS, Claude Heller, Mexico deplored the tragic passing of the Vice President, expressing the hope that the people of Paraguay would "as soon as possible overcome this most difficult time in their institutional development." The Alternate Representative of Venezuela, Ricardo Mario Rodríguez, reiterated his government’s rejection of the use of violence as a political tool, while Colombia’s Ambassador Luis Alfredo Ramos said he hoped Paraguay would "overcome this difficult time."

"We join with the hemisphere in demanding that the full weight of the law be brought to bear on the perpetrators of this act," said Dominican Republic’s Ambassador Flavio Darío Espinal declared to the meeting of the OAS Permanent Council.