Ex-bishop wins Paraguayan election; 6-decade rulers dumped
The decades-long rule of the right-wing Colorado party has been ended in Paraguay. This has important ramifications for the region as Latin American politics tends to be linked and cyclical.
The world's longest-ruling political party is about to lose its six-decade grasp on power in Paraguay after a former Roman Catholic bishop won the country's presidential election.
The Colorado Party's reign — which began in 1947 and was marked by the right-wing dictatorship of the late Gen. Alfredo Stroessner until his ouster in 1989 — was halted by Fernando Lugo, a charismatic 56-year-old who advocated for the end of political corruption and economic disarray.
He beat Colorado Party rival Blanca Ovelar, a 50-year-old protege of President Nicanor Duarte who had sought to become Paraguay's first woman president in Sunday's election.
The triumph of Lugo's eclectic opposition coalition — the Patriotic Alliance for Change — is the latest in a series of electoral wins by leftist, or center-left, leaders in South America.
Mark Weisbrot, at the Washington think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research, said Lugo's election is a sign of "deep and irreversible ... changes sweeping Latin America."
But Lugo faces many challenges: 43 percent of the country's 6.5 million people live in poverty, illiteracy is high, 300,000 landless peasant farmers are clamoring for help and Paraguay's corruption is notorious. Lugo himself is a political newcomer, forging his anti-Colorado coalition just eight months ago.