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Ill-fated Paraguay President-elect Takes Office

Ill-fated Paraguay President-elect Takes Office Tonight

Likely Ill-fated President-elect Takes Office Tonight at Ceremony in Paraguay

  • President-elect Nicanor Duarte Frutos’ Colorado Party has already acquired a tattered image after searing corruption scandals blistered its last two presidencies.

  • Finance Minister, Dionisio Borda, may be the ticket to real reform in Paraguay and, if given the freedom to pursue effective economic policy, his continued presence will be a test of Duarte Frutos’ seriousness in enacting reform.

  • Facing a deficit of over $200 million, around 39 percent of the country’s GDP, the president-elect doesn’t have the necessary budget to get the country through the rest of the year.

  • The new cabinet is confident that with the help of Borda, the
    International Monetary Fund and other foreign lenders will approve of Duarte Frutos’ economic reforms, thus providing desperately needed disbursements.
  • Given that the dominating Colorado Party of Paraguay has spent the last fifty-five years emptying the National Treasury, mixing party with public funds and hatching scores of corruption scandals, one would assume that the electorate would have chosen an opposition party candidate for their country’s highest office in the most recent election.

    Apparently not, as the Colorados are about to successfully install yet another president, despite the party’s corrupt and violence-ridden history. Although the last two presidents — both Colorados — were impeached, the candidate of this dominant but deeply divided party has triumphed once again, despite the fact that he played a crucial role in prolonging the administration of his predecessor, the second president in a row to face impeachment on corruption charges. The Colorados have held on to their hegemonic power in part because the state is the biggest employer in Paraguay; thus, these workers vote to keep the Colorado Party in power mainly so that they can keep their jobs.

    However, despite the checkered past of incoming president Nicanor Duarte Frutos, his anti-corruption campaign rhetoric and his assertions that “Paraguay must break with its political past,” have raised modest hopes that he will stand up to the tradition of dishonesty and fixed courts which preceded him. Duarte Frutos has also won popular approval for his frequently expressed distaste for privatization and “Washington Consensus” structural adjustment policies, which are axiomatically imposed upon economically struggling poor countries as a prerequisite for receiving loans from the World Bank and the IMF.

    But although Duarte Frutos mounted such sentiments during his campaign, his zeal for big reform initiatives in a corruption-ridden country whose economy is based largely on an illegal commodity import/export market has raised doubts about the feasibility that conditions will rapidly change. Skeptics feel that Duarte Frutos may be performing the same song and dance as did the leaders before him and that soon his broad-ranging commitments will get the cane.

    CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE TEXT OF THIS PRESS RELEASE
    http://www.coha.org/NEW_PRESS_RELEASES/New_Press_Releases_2003/03.55_Ill-fated_President_in_Paraguay.htm

    Analysis by Courtney Kistler, COHA Research Associate.

    The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 216-9261, fax (202) 223-6035, or email coha@coha.org.

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