Fernando Lugo, New Paraguayan President

Joao Pina for The New York Times

After 62 years of conservative rule, Paraguay finally has a center-left leader. Fernando Lugo, a former bishop, was declared the winner of the Paraguyan Presidential elections Sunday. Lugo, of the Alianza Patriótica por el Cambio (Patriotic Alliance for Change – APC) garnered nearly 41 percent of the vote compared to almost 31 percent for Blanca Ovelar, the countries first female presidential candidate, of the ruling Asociación Nacional Republicana – Partido Colorado (National Republican Association – Colorado Party-ANR-PC).

The New York Times notes:

No other country has a political party with a longer hold on the presidency than the incumbent, also known as the National Republican Association, not even the Kim family’s Communist dynasty in North Korea. In Mexico, the Institutional Revolutionary Party held the presidency for 71 years before Vicente Fox broke its string of victories in 2000.

Mr. Lugo, a gray-bearded man who exudes natural warmth and often wears sandals, was backed by the Patriotic Alliance for Change, Paraguay’s second-largest party.

Even as the final results were still being tallied, wild street celebrations broke out in downtown Asunción, near the government house. Revelers set off fireworks, waved Paraguayan flags and began dancing in the streets to spontaneous drumming deep into the night. They chanted Mr. Lugo’s campaign slogan, “Lugo has heart.”

Lugo’s victory strengthens the Latin American left, which has taken power throughout the continent in the past decade. After years of bureaucratic-authoritarian dictatorships and disenchantment with traditional political parties, the people of Latin America have embraced the democratic process and have elected leaders who have come out strongly against the traditional conservative oligarchy.

Alan García of Peru, Álvaro Uribe of Colombia and Antonio Saca of El Salvador are the continents remaining conservative leaders. René Préval of Haiti and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras are also to the right, but they aren’t bulwarks. Préval too might be on his way out as the food crisis in Haiti is being blamed on him and many protesters are calling for the return of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

One only hopes that the collapse of Colorado Party does not create bitter polarization in Paraguay as it has done elsewhere, particularly in Venezuela and Bolivia.  We will be hearing a lot about President Lugo in the near future including from the Bush Administration, which is no doubt disappointed with the election results.  Congratulations Mr. Lugo!

Jorge Adorno/Reuters


1 Comment so far
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I think the Latin American tide is tilting away from the US dominion.

Comment by Waqas

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