Paraguay’s new president to be sworn in Wednesday, expected to maintain status quo

Paraguay’s new president to be sworn in Wednesday, expected to maintain status quo

Mario Abdo Benitez will be sworn in as Paraguay’s new president today after winning April’s general election. Hailing from Paraguay’s

Paraguay’s Presidential pre-candidate Mario Abdo Benitez of the Colorado party celebrates with supporters at his headquarters in Asuncion

Photo: Reuters/Mario Valdez

Mario Abdo Benitez will be sworn in as Paraguay’s new president today after winning April’s general election.

Hailing from Paraguay’s right-wing Colorado party, which has ruled the country for 66 of the past 71 years, Mr Abdo Benitez narrowly beat out centrist Efrain Alegre. Abdo Benitez is expected to maintain the economic policies of his colleague and predecessor, Horacio Cartes, that saw Paraguay’s economy expand by over 4% last year.

But the new president’s greatest challenge could be his association with former leaders. Abdo Benitez will need to distance himself from Mr Cartes, for example, who is deeply unpopular after attempting to alter the constitution to allow himself to run for a second term.

More important could be Abdo Benitez’ connection to former dictator Alfredo Stroessner. As the son of the dictator’s former private secretary, Abdo Benitez has struggled to shake off his connection to Stroessner. He hasn’t helped his cause by adopting an apologist tone towards the regime that saw some 19,000 people tortured. With violent protests a popular means of public dissent, Abdo Benitez will need to be wary of policies harkening to Paraguay’s dictatorship era.

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