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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Paraguay: Ex-president’s affect in query after victory

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ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay — Conservative Santiago Peña’s overwhelming win in Paraguay’s presidential election not solely reaffirmed the long-ruling Colorado Get together’s maintain on energy however raised questions in regards to the future position of his highly effective political mentor, who has been accused of corruption by the USA.

Peña, a telegenic, 44-year-old economist, received Sunday’s election with 43% of the vote, in comparison with 27% for Efraín Alegre of the Pact for a New Paraguay, in what was a shock to pollsters who had predicted an in depth race. Paraguayo Cubas, a right-wing populist, did higher than anticipated with 23%.

The Colorado Get together, which has ruled Paraguay virtually uninterrupted since 1947, will even management Congress, having received 23 out of 45 seats within the Senate and 48 of 80 within the Decrease Home. It additionally received 15 out of 17 disputed governorships.

Whereas celebrating the victory, Peña overtly thanked his mentor, former President Horacio Cartes, who was standing subsequent to him on stage: “Expensive Horacio, you believed in me once I had no political historical past, no political expertise.”

Peña mentioned Monday in a tv interview that Cartes “will proceed to be a decisive determine in Paraguayan politics” however emphasised he could have “zero interference within the justice system” after taking on the presidency on Aug. 15.

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Cartes, who was president of the South American nation from 2013 to 2018, has been accused by Washington of involvement in “vital corruption,” bribing authorities officers and legislators, and of getting ties to terrorism.

“For greater than a decade, Cartes leveraged his illicitly acquired wealth and affect to broaden his political and financial energy over Paraguayan establishments,” the State Division mentioned in January.

The presidential marketing campaign of Peña, who was finance minister in Cartes’ authorities, was hit by U.S. financial sanctions in opposition to Cartes for alleged bribery and ties to Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist group.

Cartes, who’s president of the Colorado Get together, has denied the allegations and Peña referred to as them “groundless.”

Beatriz Candia, a municipal employee, mentioned she voted for Peña “as a result of I come from Colorado dad and mom. I used to be raised with that doctrine.”

“I’ve a whole lot of hope in Santiago Peña, he’s pro-life and pro-family, that are elementary pillars for our society and future generations,” she mentioned.

Some analysts mentioned the relative power of Paraguay’s economic system was a boon for Peña.

“The economic system has been functioning comparatively effectively for twenty years. Stability and inflation are usually not what most concern Paraguayans,” César Barreto, a former finance minister, mentioned.

Alegre, the second place candidate, represented a coalition of disparate events that analysts had described as the perfect probability in current historical past for the opposition to grab energy from the Colorado Get together. In the long run although, it wasn’t even shut.

Jorge Fernández, who owns a stall in an Asunción market, mentioned he was “annoyed” with the outcomes.

“Nothing goes to alter, we already know who runs the nation, who the boss is,” he added.

Analysts mentioned Peña might be beholden to Cartes as soon as in workplace.

“He received’t have the ability to govern with out Cartes,” mentioned historian and analyst Milda Rivarola from the Paraguayan Academy of Historical past. “On the similar time, Cartes has that Sword of Damocles: whether or not he can be extradited.”

Earlier than the election, Peña emphasised that it was as much as the courts, and never the presidency, to resolve on a possible extradition.

Sebastián Acha, a political advisor, predicted Peña can be main “an uncomfortable authorities.”

“We could have a president who will not have the ability to freely affiliate with the celebration president and who, on the first misstep, might be topic to impeachment.”

Peña, a U.S.-trained economist who has additionally labored on the Worldwide Financial Fund, can be tasked with finding assets for a deficit-ridden state with one of many lowest tax charges within the area whereas attempting to dent a poverty charge of 24%.

Moreover, he must show to farmers how he’ll implement his plan to keep up Paraguay’s alliance with Taiwan whereas additionally opening up the Chinese language market. Paraguay is the one remaining nation in South America to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and people ties grew to become a problem within the marketing campaign.

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