On April 21, the Paraguayan people will vote for their new president and vice president who will govern the nation over the next five years. With only 30 days away from the election date, the streets and light poles of Asuncion are covered by colorful posters plastered by candidates whose total number, according the country’s Superior Tribunal of Electoral Justice, amounts to eleven presidential tickets.
In a country with almost 6.7 million of inhabitants, with 3.7 million eligible to vote, there will be ample opportunity for voters to select their favorite candidate from among political parties from a whole spectrum. The list of presidential candidates begins with Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara and Juan Eudes Afara Maciel, representing the Colorado Party (National Republican Association-ANR), followed by Mario Ferreiro, a former journalist, and Cynthia Brizuela, on behalf of the Coalition of “The Nation Advances” (Avanza Pais). Another candidate and the second most popular is Senator Efrain Alegre, who is joined by running mate Rafael Filizzola, representing a ticket of the Authentic Liberal Radical Party called Paraguay Alegre Alliance.
The National Union of Ethical Citizens Party (Unión Nacional de Ciudadanos Éticos-UNACE) will be represented by Lino César Oviedo Sánchez, the nephew of party founder Gen. Lino Oviedo, who died following a helicopter crash in February of this year. The younger Lino Oviedo is joined by running mate Luis Felipe Villamayor. For the Patria Querida party (Beloved Country), Senator Miguel Carrizosa and Arsenio Ocampos Velazquez are running, respectively, for president and vice-president. Founded by Pedro Fadul, Patria Querida is considered to be the fifth largest party in the country, which represents small business interests.
The Frente Guasu (Great Front Alliance), a renowned leftist-socialist party, is represented by Anibal Carrillo, a physician, and Luis Aguayo. Another leftist pair, Anastacio Galeano and Digno Valdez are the candidates for the Free Homeland Party (Partido Patria Libre), which defines itself as Marxist, patriotic and anti-imperialist. For the leftist feminist Kuña Pyrenda movement, Lilian Susan Soto and Maguiorina Balbuena are campaigning nationwide.
Ricardo Martin Almada and Librada Martinez de Vera are the candidates of the White Party (Partido Blanco) and Eduardo “Coco” Arce and Gloria Bareiro are the running mates of the Workers Party (Partido de Los Trabajadores). Roberto Ferreira Franco y Luis Beltrán Vallejos are the candidates running on behalf of the Humanist Party of Paraguay (Partido Humanista Paraguayo).
In the middle of 2012, Paraguay faced a constitutional crisis when the national legislature voted to impeach and remove the leftist President Fernando Lugo. Vocal protests emerged on the streets of the capital city by Lugo’s supporters and Paraguayan leftists who rejected the verdict of the Paraguayan congress. The governments of numerous Latin American republics denounced Lugo’s removal, contending it was illegal and anti-democratic. Several of them, including Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela, recalled their ambassadors and declared that the new chief executive, Federico Franco, was illegitimate. However, the Organization of American States confirmed that the impeachment process and Lugo’s removal were done in accordance with Paraguayan law.
According to The Telegraph, a British newspaper, former President Fernando Lugo stated in June 23, 2012, "Today it is not Fernando Lugo who is deposed, it is Paraguayan history. Its democracy has been profoundly wounded. All its principles of defense have been transgressed in a cowardly, treacherous way and I hope that its executors recognize the gravity of their deeds.”
Despite former President Lugo’s protests, over the course of nine months after making this statement, Paraguayan democracy has been nonetheless further strengthened since there are now eleven presidential candidates ranging from the extreme left to the extreme right of political spectrum. Indeed, even Lugo is campaigning again, this time to become a national senator, thanks to the financial support provided by the now-deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Over the last year, Paraguay has made unprecedented positive efforts towards securing the independence of its institutions, reducing corruption and being one of the few countries in the world to safeguard the values of freedom and democracy even though it is landlocked and surrounded by ideologically unfriendly governments, such as Argentina.
Spero columnist Peter M. Tase analyzes international business and diplomacy, Martin Barillas is the editor of Spero.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.