The New York Times
December 12, 1999

Coup Leader Says He's Back in Paraguay

          By REUTERS

          ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay -- Lino Oviedo, a former coup leader who
          left his exile in Argentina on Thursday, said Saturday that he had
          returned to Paraguay, where he is wanted in connection with the vice
          president's assassination in March.

          "I'm in Paraguay," Oviedo told CBS television by satellite phone from an
          unknown location. "I will be the president of Paraguay. I'll fight
          corruption and drug trafficking."

          Oviedo, a 56-year-old former army chief, is accused of ordering the
          assassination of Vice President Luis María Argaña. He also has been
          sentenced to 10 years for a failed coup attempt in 1996.

          "They'll accuse me of anything here," he said. "I've never used force to
          gain power. I will win by election. I want to run in elections and let the
          people speak."

          The Paraguayan military and police were put on alert Thursday after
          Oviedo left Argentina, where he had been living since March, and were
          scouring the country to find him.

          Oviedo left Argentina after its new president, Fernando de la Rúa, who
          was sworn in Friday, made it known that he would kick Oviedo out of
          the country. Repeated requests to extradite Oviedo had caused
          considerable friction between Paraguay and Argentina's last government,
          led by President Carlos Saúl Menem.

          "I left Argentina so I wouldn't bother Argentina's new president," Oviedo
          said today. "I prefer to be in my own country."

          Paraguay's defense minister, Nelson Argaña, who is the son of the slain
          vice president, harshly criticized Menem Saturday, accusing him of
          allowing Oviedo to leave Argentina.

          "What these people are doing is an insult to the Paraguayan people," he
          said. "We have to do something against these people who let a murderer

          After disturbances caused by the murder of Argaña, a political rival,
          Oviedo fled along with the former president of Paraguay, Raúl Cubas,
          who is in exile in Brazil.

          "The only thing we can say is that in the improbable chance that Oviedo
          tries to return to Paraguayan territory, it would be the perfect way for the
          government to hunt him down and catch him," said Paraguay's interior
          minister, Walter Bower.