Mario Abdo Benítez, President of Paraguay (elected on Apr 22, 2018)
Mario Abdo Benítez (born 10 November 1971) is a Paraguayan politician. A former president of the Senate of Paraguay, as the presidential candidate of the Colorado Party in the 2018 elections, he has won the presidency and will take office in August.
His first steps in politics were in 2005 as a member of the Republican National Reconstruction movement. He was later a member of the Peace and Progress movement and won the Vice Presidency of the Colorado Party in 2005. In June 2015, he was elected president of the Senate of Paraguay.
Abdo Benítez has faced criticism for his relationship with the military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, as his father, Mario Abdo Sr., was Stroessner’s private secretary. Abdo Benítez has claimed that Stroessner “did a lot for the country”, although he also clarified that he does not condone the violations of human rights, torture and persecution committed during the regime. When Stroessner died in 2006, he proposed that the Governing Board of the Colorado Party pay him tribute. The fortune Abdo Benítez owns was inherited from his father, who after the fall of the dictatorship was prosecuted for illicit enrichment, but the case was eventually dismissed.
In December 2017, Abdo Benítez won the Colorado Party presidential primaries by defeating former Minister of Finance Santiago Peña (es) with 564,811 votes (50.93%) to 480,114 (43.29%). In April 2018, Abdo Benítez won the 2018 elections by defeating Efraín Alegre with 46.46% of the votes to 42.73%.
His first marriage was to Fátima María Díaz Benza, with whom he had two sons. Following their divorce, he married Silvana López Moreira Bo.
Horacio Cartes, Former President of Paraguay (elected Apr 21, 2013)
Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara (born 5 July 1956) is a Paraguayan businessman and Paraguay’s president-elect as of the April 2013 elections. He is a member of the Colorado Party and is scheduled to take office on 15 August.
Cartes owns about two dozen businesses in his Grupo Cartes conglomerate including tobacco, soft drinks, meat production, and banking. He has been president of Club Libertad football club since 2001.
Cartes’ father was the owner of a Cessna aircraft franchise holding company and Horacio Cartes studied aeronautical engineering in the United States. At the age of 19, he started a currency exchange business which grew into the Banco Amambay. Over the following years, Cartes bought or helped establish 25 companies including Tabesa, the country’s biggest cigarette manufacturer, and a major fruit juice bottling company.
Cartes was imprisoned on charges of currency fraud for seven months in 1989. He was eventually cleared by a court.
In 2000, the anti-drug police seized a plane carrying cocaine and marijuana on his ranch. He claimed that the plane had made an emergency landing on his compound and that he had no involvement with drug trade and was against the legalization of narcotics.
Cartes’ name appears in the Offshore leaks files in connection with a Cook Islands financial entity linked to Cartes’ Paraguayan bank Banco Amambay.A classified WikiLeaks cable from 2010 mentioned Cartes as the focus of a money laundering investigation.
Until 2008 Cartes was uninvolved in politics and he was not registered as a voter. He joined the center-right Colorado Party in 2009 and said he wanted to counter the swing to the left in Latin American politics. He became known as an efficient politician uncompromised by his party’s past support of the military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner who ruled until 1989. His economic capability helped him win his party’s nomination for the 2013 presidential election.
Convincing points of his campaign were the promises to raise private capital to upgrade the country’s infrastructure, to modernise its public entreprises, to attract international investments, and to create jobs. On April 21st 2013, he was elected President of Paraguay with 45.80% of votes.
During the campaign Cartes made homophobic statements, comparing homosexuals to monkeys and saying he would shoot himself in the testicles if his son turned out to be gay.
Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez, Former President of Paraguay
Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez (born May 30, 1951) is the current President of Paraguay and the former Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro.Lugo’s family was not particularly religious; by his own account, he never saw his father set foot in a chapel.However, his upbringing was emphatically political. His uncle Epifanio Méndes Fleitas was a noted Colorado Party dissident and was persecuted and exiled by General Stroessner’s regime. His father was imprisoned twenty times, and some of his elder siblings were sent to exile too. He received his basic education at a religious school in Encarnación, all the while he worked selling snacks on the streets. At age 17 or 18, against his father’s wishes of him becoming a lawyer, Lugo entered a normal school, and began teaching at a rural community. He was well accepted within this people, who were very religious, but they had no priest. He recalls that he was touched by that experience, discovering his vocation, and so he decided to enter a Society of the Divine Word seminary at age 19. Lugo was ordained a priest on August 15, 1977.That same year he was sent to Ecuador as a missionary for five years. There he had the opportunity to learn about the controversial Liberation theology. He returned to Paraguay in 1982, and after a year, the regime’s police asked that he be expelled from the country. The Church complied and sent him to Rome for further academic studies. Lugo returned to his homeland in 1987, two years short of the Stroessner dictatorship’s ultimate fall. He was ordained Bishop on April 17, 1994, and received the nation’s poorest diocese, in the San Pedro department. Following his presidential aspirations, Lugo resigned as ordinary of the Diocese of San Pedro on January 11, 2005. He had requested laicization in order to run for office. However, the Holy See refused the request on the grounds that Bishops could not undergo laicization, and also denied him the requested canonical permission to run for civil elected office. Subsequently following his declaration of candidacy, the Holy See imposed on him the penalty of suspension from the discharge of the ordained ministry, but did not dismiss him from the clerical state. In July 2008, the Vatican reversed its decision and Pope Benedict XVI accepted Lugo’s request for laicization.
Óscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos, Former President of Paraguay
Óscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos (born October 11, 1956) is the current President of Paraguay. He has served since 2003.
Born in Coronel Oviedo, Caaguazú, Duarte grew up during the Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship and was affiliated to Stroessner’s Colorado Party at the age of 14 while attending high school in Coronel Oviedo. Duarte is married to María Gloria Penayo Solaeche and they have six children.
In 1974, Duarte Frutos received a bachelor’s degree in Sciences and Letters. In 1984 he obtained a law degree from the Catholic University of Asunción and in 1989 a doctorate from the National University of Asunción. Later he joined the ruling Colorado party. The preliminary candidate for the Colorados in December 1992 was the former minister of Integration Juan Carlos Wasmosy Monti who in August 1993 became the president of Paraguay. Wasmosy appointed Duarte as his Minister of Education and Culture. In 1996, a political controversy led Duarte to leave the ruling party. In February 1997 he resigned as a minister and joined the Reconciliacion Colorada Movement (MRC).
In January 2001, he joined the ruling ANR-PC again and stood for the presidency for the period 2001-2004. He obtained the presidential nomination from his party on December 22, 2002 and contested the national election of April 27, 2003. He was proclaimed president with 37.1% of the votes, ahead of Franco with 24%, Fadul with 21.3% and Sánchez with 13.5% of the votes. He took office on August 15 for the presidential term 2003-2008, becoming the eleventh consecutive ANR-PC president.
Duarte has pursued policies which are somewhat more left-wing than has been the case for the Colorado Party over its 60-year rule of Paraguay. He has opposed free trade and reached out to regional Latin American countries with left-leaning governments.