Paraguay's Mario Abdo Benitez, “Marito”, who represents the country's long-dominant Colorado Party, was elected as president on Sunday, landing the top job in the country with the smallest economy in Mercosur. The US-educated son of a senior aide to the country's late dictator, Abdo Benitez won slightly more than 46% of the vote, with his centrist opponent Efrain Alegre taking almost 43% in a race that was far closer than expected.
Former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla began this week her activities as head of the Organization of American States (OAS) mission that will observe Paraguay’s April 22 elections. During an event at Paraguay’s TSJE electoral court, Chinchilla and the president of the TSJE, Jaime Bestard, signed an agreement establishing the terms of the mission, which will include 39 observers from 14 countries.
With Latin America’s three most populous countries voting for president this year, it’s easy to overlook the election in landlocked Paraguay (population 7 million) that takes place on April 22.
Paraguayan president elect Horacio Cartes transition team said that Venezuela should be present at the inauguration ceremony of the new head of state scheduled for 15 August, despite the ‘current circumstances’ of bilateral relations.
In his victory speech Paraguay president-elect Horacio Cartes said he expects to win the confidence of all the Paraguayan population and called on the opposition to work for the good of the nation. He also had a direct reference to the neighbouring giant saying he wanted to work with Brazil, a ‘brother-country’.
Millionaire businessman Horacio Cartes won Paraguay's Sunday presidential election, returning the powerful centre-right Colorado Party to power after a brief spell started in 2008 ended in impeachment last year. Cartes won with a 9 or 10 percentage point lead over Efrain Alegre of the ruling Liberal Party, the head of the country's electoral tribunal said.
“We’re optimistic about Sunday’s election and the future of Paraguay if we can agree on long term state policies, but something is for certain: democracy in Paraguay is here to stay” said Ricardo Caballero Aquino, Chargé d’affaires of the Paraguayan embassy in Montevideo who was also positive about future relations with Unasur and Mercosur.
On Thursday evening all of Paraguayan presidential candidates will be holding their final rallies after which begins a 48-hour ban of all electoral activities ahead of Sunday’s general election. Two candidates outstand in the dispute, Horacio Cartes from the Colorado party and Efrain Alegre from the ruling coalition headed by the Liberals.