Paraguayan Voters Send Colorado Party Back to the Palacio de López

Conservative party ruled continuously for 60 years, until losing the 2008 election


red's a popular color

Last June, the Paraguayan Congress impeached the president, Fernando Lugo in a process that took less than 24 hours and was called a coup d'etat by many of the country's neighbors. Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop, was impeached after an eviction of peasant squatters on private farmland turned deadly. Lugo was the first president not to come from the conservative Colorado Party in 60 years (35 of which came during the dictatorship of the military strongman Alfredo Stroessner.

Neverthless, this year's Colorado candidate, Horacio Cartes, had been favored to win going into the polls this weekend and won by about 9 points. Via The Guardian:

Cartes, who has shares in more than 20 companies, campaigned on the promise of creating jobs, and investing in health and education. This appealed to voters looking for more growth in the isolated and poor nation…

[B]oth candidates faced corruption allegations during the election campaign. Cartes, who will start his five-year term in August, spent nearly a year in jail in 1989 for illegal currency dealings, though he was later acquitted.

WikiLeaks cables reveal he was recently investigated by the US for trafficking drugs and contraband cigarettes from the tri-border with Argentina and Brazil. In 2000 a plane loaded with marijuana and cocaine was seized by police after it landed on one of Cartes's farms. Cartes has also been accused of laundering money for Brazilian drug traffickers.

Cartes dismissed such claims as mere "anecdotes" on Sunday morning.

…Many voters were unperturbed by Cartes's time in jail and the accusations against him. "All the candidates are stained," said María Cattebeke, 31, a teacher voting in the capital. "So the dirt on Cartes doesn't really matter."

Cartes never voted before joining the Colorado party in 2009.