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Paraguay: Ex-Bishop Becomes Next President

Paraguay went to the polls to elect its next president on April 20th. Gathering nearly 41% of the vote was the former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo. His victory ends a 61 year run by the Colorado party and the exit of outgoing president Nicanor Duarte, who will leave on August 15. Although it is too early to tell what Lugo's policies will be, many speculate that he may follow similar measures than neighboring Bolivia. However, the focus of his campaign centered around tackling the country's poverty and to restore Paraguay's “energy sovereignty.” Photos from Lugo's campaign and victory can be found on his Flickr account page.

lugo.jpg

Photo from Fernando Lugo Campaign and used under Creative Commons license

Muna Annahas, a Paraguayan ex-pat living in the US, is pleased with the results:

I’m very happy about the turn out of the elections, I hope it is the best at least for a change, people in Paraguay are celebrating with big flags in front of the Panteon de los Heroes in downtown Asuncion. Lugo won Blanca Ovelar (the colorado Party candidate) for about 170 thousand votes. Paraguayan folk was tired of the current situation and they spoke together and elected a fresh person that I hope is going to make positive changes and improve Paraguay’s reputation around the globe.

Many Paraguayans are celebrating, such as Guillermo Verdún of Paraguayo [es] who writes that history was made, “The Paraguayan people said enough is enough. The corrupt and arrogant Colorado Party was defeated on April 20. Let's hope that Lugo and Franco can do a good job with the government and that the Paraguayans learn to be more honest and fair.”

The blogs written on the ABC Digital platform also contained many pro-Lugo celebrations, such as the blog post written by Nelson Zapata [es]:

Hubo muchos que hasta último momento siguieron diciendo que el Partido Colorado era muy difícil de derrotar, porque la rosca maneja el aparato del Estado, la compra de cédula, y la maquinaria del fraude. Muchos pretendieron meterle miedo a la gente para que no vaya a votar, con el cuco del ingreso de terroristas y atracos a supermercados. A toda esa gente, a los que confiaban en el fraude, en la corrupción, a los que pretendieron seguir humillando a los compatriotas, comprándoles sus cédulas por unos centavos, la gente le demostró que es digna y que quiere construir un país diferente.

Up to the last minute, there were many that were saying that the Colorado Party was too difficult to defeat, because of the machine runs the State apparatus, the buying of IDs, and the fraud machinery. Many tried to scare the people so that they wouldn't go vote, with the fear of terrorists entering the country and attacks on supermarkets. To all of those people, who trusted in fraud, corruption, the buying of IDs for a few cents, others showed them that they have dignity and that they want to build a different country.

The candidate that Lugo defeated, Blanca Ovelar, was saluted for the way that she conceded the election. Mabel Rehnfeldt also criticizes the outgoing president Nicanor Duarte, member of the Colorado Party:

Quebrada pero con una fortaleza admirable, Blanca puso la cara y cumplió la promesa que había hecho en la campaña. La historia recordará la caída del partido colorado después de 61 años; la historia recordará a Blanca Ovelar y a su entereza porque a la gente se la conoce más en las derrotas que en las victorias. Pero también recordará al que se escondió y no dio la cara junto a la candidata después de haber sido el causante de la caída del partido colorado: La gente recordará a Nicanor Duarte Frutos…. Y sabe por qué? Porque Blanca salió primera. Porque Blanca salió sola. Porque Blanca no se escondió tras la investidura y no esperó a que otros hablen para hablar ella. La gente puede aceptar que alguien pierda, pero no que corra. Solamente las ratas y las cucarachas huyen. Y sólo los cobardes se esconden tras la pollera de una mujer. Una mujer que esta noche dio una gran lección. Me saco el sombrero, doña Blanca.

Defeated, but with an admirable strength, Blanca saved face and followed through on her campaign promise. History will remember the fall of the Colorado Party after 61 years, history will remember Blanca Ovelar and her strength of character because you get to know what people are made of during the defeats, than during victories. But history will also remember the one that hid and did not appear next to the candidate after being the reason why the Colorado Party was defeated. The people will remember Nicanor Duarte Frutos… you know why? Because Blanca came out first. Because Blanca came out alone. Because Blanca did not hide behind the investiture, and did not wait for others to talk in order that she could talk. People can accept that someone loses, but not for them to run. Only rats and cockroaches run. Only cowards hide behind the dress of a woman. A woman that tonight taught us a big lesson. I take off my hat to you, Mrs. Blanca.

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