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Victory for left bishop in Paraguay

This article is over 15 years, 11 months old
The election of Fernando Lugo last weekend as president of Paraguay has shaken the country’s elite and unseated the longest ruling party in the world.
Issue 2098

The election of Fernando Lugo last weekend as president of Paraguay has shaken the country’s elite and unseated the longest ruling party in the world.

The candidate for the ruling Colorado party – an elitist and corrupt party that has ruled Paraguay since 1947 – conceded defeat after results from 92 percent of polling stations showed Lugo in the lead by 10 percent.

Lugo was a Catholic bishop in San Pedro – a poor region in the north of Paraguay – until he was forced to resign his position in 2005 after supporting land invasions by landless workers and their families.

During the election, Lugo called for measures to reduce the stark inequality between rich and poor, for land reform and to renegotiate a hydroelectric treaty with Brazil that was signed in secret in 1973 by the military regimes ruling the two countries at the time.

Lugo has made a point, however, of distancing himself from radical presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Paraguay has seen an agricultural boom over the past four years, making it the fourth largest global exporter of soya beans.

Yet the vast majority of Paraguayans have seen no benefit from this wealth and many landless workers are fighting for the right to land.

The election is a clear sign of a wider mood for change in the country.

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