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Paraguay Inaugurates New President - 2003-08-15

Paraguay's newly inaugurated president says he will dedicate himself to fighting corruption and poverty in the South American nation.

Nicanor Duarte, 47, struck a decidedly populist tone during his inaugural speech Friday in Asuncion. Flanked by eight Latin American heads of state, including Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Mr. Duarte promised social justice and equality for Paraguay, the second poorest nation in South America, where more than half the population lives in poverty.

Mr. Duarte said, it is not possible to construct or sustain a strong democracy with a weak economy and an absent government. He said what he called neo-liberalism has failed, because it denies human dignity. Mr. Duarte said Paraguay will construct a society of equal opportunity where development has a human face.

Mr. Duarte, who won the presidential vote in April, belongs to the Colorado Party, which has ruled Paraguay without interruption since 1947. He succeeds Luis Gonzalez Macchi, whose administration was plagued by allegations of corruption. A judge has ordered Mr. Gonzalez Macchi to remain in the country, until a probe of the former leader's financial dealings is complete.