Mario Abdo Benitez, Marito, took over as Paraguay's new president on Wednesday, replacing a seemingly disgruntled Horacio Cartes, who left the inauguration ceremony before it finished. Abdo Benitez, 46, promised to combat poverty and entrenched corruption, and urged Paraguayans to look toward the future and not remain stuck in the past as he took the oath of office to start a five-year term.
Uruguay will be handed the rotating chair of Mercosur this Monday in a brief summit ceremony to take place in Paraguay. Attending will be Brazil's Michel Temer, Uruguay's Tabare Vázquez, the host Paraguay Horacio Cartes and in representation of Argentina, vice president Gabriela Michetti. President Mauricio Macri is in the midst of a cabinet reshuffle and waiting for market reaction this Monday following the naming of a new Central Bank chairman.
Paraguay will have a woman president for the first time in its history, at least temporarily, after outgoing leader Horacio Cartes decided to step down ahead of schedule. Vice-President Alicia Pucheta, 68, will complete Cartes' mandate after he resigned to become a senator.
Paraguay officially moved the country's embassy to Jerusalem on Monday, with President Horacio Cartes in Israel for the ceremony, also attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Paraguay, a member of Mercosur, is now the third country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the United States and Guatemala. The inauguration ceremony took place at noon at the embassy’s new home in the Malkha technology park, which also houses the Guatemalan embassy.
Paraguayan authorizes have issued an arrest warrant for a man President Horacio Cartes has described as his soul brother as part of a sweeping investigation into corruption in Latin America.
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.
Brazilian authorities have reported the seizure of a huge contraband of cigarettes from Paraguay, and some of the brands in the boxes belong to a well known tobacco company in Asunción, which belongs to president Horacio Cartes.
The lower house of Paraguay's Congress has voted overwhelmingly to reject a constitutional amendment that allowed the president to seek re-election. The proposal triggered riots last month, with protesters setting fire to part of the Congress building.
Paraguay's conservative President Horacio Cartes reached out to his opponents Monday for talks after a bid to lift a ban on him seeking re-election sparked deadly riots. His opponents say the constitutional change would raise the risk of a return to dictatorship for a country that transitioned to democracy in 1989 after 35 years of military rule.