News / Americas

Center-Right Cartes Wins Paraguayan Presidential Election

Colorado Party's presidential candidate Horacio Cartes, waves to supporters in Asuncion, Paraguay, April 21, 2013.
Colorado Party's presidential candidate Horacio Cartes, waves to supporters in Asuncion, Paraguay, April 21, 2013.
Reuters
For Horacio Cartes, a millionaire cigarette and soft drink magnate who won Paraguay's presidential election on Sunday, the challenge now is to run a country where most people can only dream of having a sliver of the wealth he does.

The 56-year-old, who won the election with 46 percent of the vote and will take office in August, campaigned as a center-right conservative at a time when most of Latin America is run by leftists.

Indeed, Cartes has touted a pro-business agenda that includes modernizing the bloated state, which employs about 10 percent of all workers in Paraguay. He also wants to attract up to $2.7 billion in private capital to refurbish Paraguay's airports and build new highways.

Yet Cartes himself has acknowledged that, to be successful, he must also cater to Paraguay's poor masses. Poverty runs near 40 percent and per-capita gross domestic product was just $5,413 in 2011, the second-lowest in South America behind only Bolivia, according to International Monetary Fund data.

Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo in Asuncion, June 21, 2012 (AP).Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo in Asuncion, June 21, 2012 (AP).
x
Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo in Asuncion, June 21, 2012 (AP).
Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo in Asuncion, June 21, 2012 (AP).
The country of 6.6 million has long been one of the region's most politically unstable, with a fragile economy dependent on agriculture. The last elected president, Fernando Lugo, was impeached last year following civil unrest.

"We all want infrastructure, airports, ports, highways, hospitals. But the government will be a failure if we have so many poor people," Cartes told local radio on Sunday.

A political novice who never even voted before 2009, Cartes will have strong support from Congress as well as the political machinery of the center-right Colorado Party, whose 60-year reign was interrupted by Lugo's election in 2008.

On Sunday, the Colorado Party won control of the lower house and 19 of 45 Senate seats, preliminary election results showed. The Liberals had the second-biggest showing and leftist coalitions came in third place, with Lugo elected senator.

Cartes has promised to reform the Colorado Party, infamous for corruption and whose long period in power included General Alfredo Stroessner's 1954-1989 dictatorship.

Nonetheless, analysts think the Colorado Party will try to cling to its system of political patronage and resist changes or job cuts.

"It's very difficult to know what Cartes wants to do," said political analyst Jose Carlos Rodriguez. "In principle, he has a neo-conservative project that gives a strong impulse to private companies and nothing to the state. But there's a major inconsistency there and he'll also have a powerful party that will demand certain benefits."

Notorious for Contraband

Paraguay relies heavily on soybean and beef exports but it is also notorious for contraband trade and money laundering. Growth is seen at 13 percent this year after a severe drought caused a contraction in 2012, according to the central bank.

Land conflicts have intensified in recent years and the small, violent left-wing Paraguayan People's Army operates in northern regions.

In January, the Liberal government took an unprecedented step to tap global debt markets, selling $500 million in 10-year bonds that were nearly 12 times oversubscribed.

Efrain Alegre, the ruling party's presidential candidate, had said he would seek to issue more debt to finance infrastructure. But Cartes has not taken a stance one way or the other.

On Monday, Paraguay's global bond was trading largely steady. A New York-based trader said it was yielding at 4.37 percent, or 26 basis points tighter than when it was first issued at par, but he said the paper was very illiquid.

The leftist bloc is especially strong in the Mercosur trade group, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay. Mercosur suspended Paraguay in June when Lugo was ousted, arguing the two-day impeachment trial was tantamount to a coup.

Soon after, Mercosur brought in socialist Venezuela even though its inclusion was never approved by Paraguay's Congress.

Cartes told reporters on Sunday that he had already made contacts with Mercosur officials to ensure Paraguay's full return to the group. The presidents of Argentina and Uruguay welcomed Paraguay back into the fold after Cartes' victory.

One of the country's richest men, Cartes primarily made his fortune in the financial and tobacco industries. Rivals tried to link him to drug running and money laundering, but he has never been charged with those crimes and denies any wrongdoing.

Fiona Mackie, Paraguay analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit research firm, said she did not think Cartes would pursue plans to open airports and state utilities to private investment due to resistance within the Colorado Party.

"That said, a Cartes government would be relatively open to foreign investment in mineral resources," she wrote last week, noting the recent discovery of a major titanium deposit and plans for an aluminum smelter by Rio Tinto Alcan.

  • Colorado Party's presidential candidate Horacio Cartes and VP-elect Juan Afara, wave to supporters in Asuncion, Paraguay, April 21, 2013. Cartes won a five-year term over Efrain Alegre of the Radical Liberal party.
  • Paraguay's Colorado Party's Presidential candidate Horacio Cartes shows his ink-marked finger after voting in Goethe School, Asuncion, Paraguay, April 21, 2013.
  • Residents walk inside the "Quintina Paredes Silva" school serving as a polling station during general elections on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, April 21, 2013.
    .
  • A man drives a motorized tricycle past a billboard picturing Colorado Party's presidential candidate Horacio Cartes, right, in San Lorenzo, Paraguay, April 19, 2013.
    .
  • A man casts his vote during general elections on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, April 21, 2013.
  • Horacio Cartes, presidential candidate of Colorado Party, waves to supporters during a campaign rally in Capiata, Paraguay, April 5, 2013.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Colorful Macaws Bring Beauty to Chaotic Caracas

Long-tailed birds color Venezuelan capital's sky, giving its 5 million residents a moment of quiet respite from noise and crime
More

Colombia's ELN Rebels: Peace Talks Near, Rule Out Jail

Commander's comments come as pressure mounts for President Santos to conclude peace talks with far larger FARC group and to show progress with ELN
More

Photogallery Chile Volcano Still Puffing; Flights Canceled in Argentina

Calbuco, which erupted Wednesday without warning, continues to spew ash, smoke
More

Former Spy Master Flees Argentina Amid Threats

Antonio Stiuso contends government is trying to sully his reputation following death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman
More

Chile, Argentina Cancel Flights as Volcanic Ash Cloud Spreads

Argentina's meteorology service forecast ash cloud could reach La Pampa; more than 4,000 people have been evacuated from immediate area
More

Deals Extend Russia's Energy Cooperation With Argentina

Accords underscore Moscow's effort to enhance South American ties since coming under Western sanctions over Ukraine crisis
More