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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    G-20 Finance Ministers Pledge to Boost Global Economy

    Ministers close their 2-day meeting in China expressing concerns about Brexit and trade protectionism

    Obama: Trump’s Portrait of America ‘Doesn’t Jibe With Reality’

    At news conference with Mexico's president, Obama says US is 'not going to make good decisions' about race relations, crime ' based on fears that don’t have basis in fact'

    Vatican Invited to Mediate in Venezuela Crisis

    Various opposition leaders say President Maduro's public exhortations to support dialogue are a cynical attempt to buy time and cling to power

    Homicides Rise 15.4 Percent in Mexico in 1st Half of 2016

    The figures remained below those for 2011, the peak year for violence during Mexico's drug war

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    Large metal barrier that separates Nogales, Arizona, from Nogales, Sonora, isn't that popular with those who live near it

    Brazil Arrests Suspected Olympics Attack Planners

    Cell organized through internet-based messaging services such as WhatsApp and Telegraph