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Cartes, a self-made millionaire who has pledged to transform Paraguay

Monday, April 22nd 2013 - 07:26 UTC
Full article 15 comments
With an empire of 25 companies, Cartes is also very traditional and has been accused of homophobic With an empire of 25 companies, Cartes is also very traditional and has been accused of homophobic

President-elect Horacio Cartes is one of Paraguay's wealthiest men with businesses in tobacco, finance, farming, retail and the soft drinks industry among others. Brash and ambitious, Cartes had never voted before joining the conservative Colorado Party in 2009.

At the time on registering in the Colorado party and creating his grouping Colorado Honour, he argued he was “disappointed and restless about the political course of Paraguay under a left-oriented-Chavista-inspired government” of then president Fernando Lugo who a year before had taken office.

He had to convince the Colorados he was not involved in money laundering or drugs trafficking as repeated claims surfaced when he walked on stage, and had to explain why back in 1989 he spent some time in jail for allegedly illegal foreign currency dealings. All charges were finally dropped.

In 2000 a small plane full of marihuana and cocaine apparently landed and was abandoned in one of his farms. He was accused but insisted on innocence and charges again charges were dropped.

Finally he managed to convince his party and later voters that his business experience would be enough to lead the country that needed an “efficient manager”.

“The accusations made during this campaign have no truth to them, and personally I am very serene” the outspoken Cartes told reporters early on Sunday.

Paraguay has a long history of political instability, rampant corruption, smuggling and nearly 40% of its 6.6 million people are poor.

Cartes said his daughter urged him not to run. He told her Paraguay and God gave him everything, so it was time to give back.

“I've asked people's forgiveness for dedicating myself just to making money. For me, for me, for me,” he told local television last month.

Cartes, 56, grew up in the sleepy riverside capital of Asuncion. As a teenager, he imported airplane parts for his father's Cessna franchise and later studied aviation in the United States.

Upon returning to Paraguay, he got into the financial business. He controls about 25 companies, including Amambay bank, Paraguay's biggest cigarette maker and a popular soft drinks factory. He is also president of the Libertad football club, one of the country's best.

Cartes is Catholic and often refers to God in his public comments. He has three children and is separated from his wife.

He is against abortion and same-sex marriage. He recently referred to heterosexuality as “normality” and said, “let's stay normal.” He also said, “I'd shoot myself in the balls” if his son wanted to marry another man, sparking complaints from groups that fight homophobia.

Cartes has vowed to bring in more private capital to fund crucial infrastructure projects as well as improve operations at state-run companies and modernize a bloated state bureaucracy, which employs about 10% of all workers.

Paraguay's civil service is dominated by the Colorado Party and many posts are doled out as favours. Cartes has vowed to end the nepotism and mend his party's ways.

“I may have to use my own resources to keep the troops happy,” Cartes said, “but no one is going to keep me from modernizing the state”.

Top Comments

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  • Stevie

    A drug-trafficking, homophobic smuggler...

    And you lot complained about a bus driver...


    Apr 22nd, 2013 - 09:48 am 0
  • Tobers

    I have no qualms about agreeing with you Stevie, Think, BK or whoever on this. This guy is bad news for Paraguay. However Maduro is still bad news for Venezuela. And CFK , the luxury hotel and NYC penthouse owning 'woman of the people' and her fellow money laundering uber rich cronies are bad news for Argentina.

    Greed isnt ideological its a part human nature

    Apr 22nd, 2013 - 01:06 pm 0
  • Britworker

    Agreed, sounds like a right nutter. But hey, it's South America.

    Apr 22nd, 2013 - 02:04 pm 0
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