This is a video from the winners of the recent presidential election in Paraguay.
In recent years, elections in many countries in Latin America have shown a shift to the left. From the bloody dictatorship of Pinochet to Michelle Bachelet today in Chile; from the torturing Argentine junta to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina; from the Brazilian dictatorial generals to Lula; from the corrupt oligarchs of Venezuela to Hugo Chavez; from the yes men of United States imperialism in Ecuador who said yes to a US armed forces basis in Manta to Correa who now wants to close Manta; from pro Washington Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada who had workers and peasants massacred to Evo Morales, a peasant himself.
Not in all individual countries do those changes mean the same. It is also still too early to predict outcomes for individual countries; or for the Americas as a whole.
Yesterday, the electorate of Paraguay joined the shift to the left. They ended over six decades of one party rule by the Colorado party (official name: Asociación Nacional Republicana – Partido Colorado, ANR-PC). As is usual with Latin American rightist dictators, Stroessner and other Colorado party rulers were cronies of United States governments.
Bloomberg news agency from the USA reports:
By Eliana Raszewski and Bill Faries
April 21 — Former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo ended more than six decades of rule by Paraguay‘s Colorado Party in presidential elections, vowing to spread economic growth to the country’s poorest people.
Lugo, who heads the Patriotic Alliance for Change, won 40.8 percent of the votes yesterday, compared with 30.7 percent for the Colorado Party’s Blanca Ovelar, the Election Court said on its Web site. …
Ovelar’s defeat was the Colorado Party’s first in its 61 years in power, the longest of any ruling party in the world. …
Lugo campaigned on promises to restore Paraguay’s “energy sovereignty” by charging neighboring Brazil and Argentina more for electricity generated by the country’s biggest hydroelectric dams. He also railed against the gap between large landowners and the country’s poor majority.
“Paraguay is a major soybean producer and an important energy producer but even with that, 35 percent of the population lives in poverty,” said Riordan Roett, director of Western Hemisphere Studies at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. “That is one of the great reasons Lugo was able to win this race.” …
Lugo resigned his position as a Roman Catholic bishop in one of Paraguay’s poorest regions in order to run for president. After being ordained in 1977, the Church sent him to Ecuador. There, working among the poor in the Andes, he said he became a supporter of “liberation theology,” a strain of Christian thought that emphasizes political activism. …
From 1947 to 1962, the Colorado Party was the only legal party in Paraguay, ruled by General Alfredo Stroessner from 1954 to 1989. During that time the country became infamous as a refuge for Nazi war criminals, including Joseph Mengele. The party stayed in power after a military coup ousted Stroessner, who died in exile in Brazil two years ago at the age of 93.
“People got tired of the ruling party and that’s why an inexperienced politician, a former bishop, managed to defeat the region’s oldest ruling party,” Horacio Galeano Perrone, a former education minister, said by telephone. “While the country got poorer, a few people got much richer.”
PARAGUAY: Torture Victim Still Fears Colorado Party ‘Mafia’: here.
Update 13 September 2008: here.
Paraguay: Change is still to come; The first year of Fernando Lugo’s government: here.
- Paraguayan peasant leader shot dead (guardian.co.uk)
- Paraguayan peasant leader shot dead (steppaz1961.wordpress.com)
- Businessman hopes to lead Colorados back to power in Paraguay. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- Paraguayan Farmers Question Probe Into Killings (npr.org)