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Fernando Lugo Takes Paraguay

April 22, 2008 10:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Victory for former bishop Fernando Lugo in Paraguay’s elections on Sunday ends 61 years of domination by the Colorado Party.

30-Second Summary

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Moderate leftist and former bishop Fernando Lugo has won the presidential election in Paraguay, ending the 61-year reign of the Colorado Party.

After 52 percent of the votes had been counted, Lugo’s primary opponent Blanca Ovelar admitted defeat. Lugo’s party, the Patriotic Alliance for Change, won 40 percent of the votes, compared with Olivar’s 31 percent.

Lino Oviedo, an army general, took third place; he helped overthrow dictator Stroessner in 1989 but was sentenced to 10 years in jail for attempting to orchestrate a coup 1996.

The newly elected Lugo spoke before the crowds: “We ask you never to abandon us. We'll make democracy together!" He added, "We will give our best to ensure our people are respected and known from here on in for their honesty, not for their corruption.”

The Daily Mail reports that almost 4 in 10 Paraguayans are poor. According to the new president, Paraguay is ranked the most corrupt country in Latin America. Apart from corruption and poverty, Lugo’s other concerns include poor literacy rates and land inequalities.  Lugo explains, “During the past 30 years, more than 11 million hectares of land were redistributed in Paraguay but these have not been given to those that really need them but to those that were close to the regimes of dictator Stroessner and the regimes that followed.”

Lugo who grew up in one of Paraguay’s poorest cities, San Pedro, became politically active after working in Ecuador and discovering “liberation theology.”

Blanca Ovelar, a former education minister, who came second in the race, would have been the country’s first female president. Her campaign emphasized creating micro-financing projects, developing a larger police force and combating unemployment through government building initiatives.

There will be no run-off elections. Lugo will take office on Aug. 15.

Headline Links: Paraguayan election ends Colorado Party rule

Video: Fernando Lugo

Key Players: Lugo, Ovelar and Oviedo

Historical Context: Alfredo Stroessner’s overthrow, Lino Oviedo’s attempted coup

Opinion & Analysis: Predictions for the Presidency

Reference Links: Paraguay, liberation theology

Paraguay
Liberation Theology
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