Santiago Peña, political dolphin of former President Horacio Cartes, will be the candidate of the Colorado Party in the next general elections in Paraguay
One month before the elections on April 30, the Colorado Party of Paraguay is trying to ensure that the consequences left by the fierce internship for the recent primaries do not fuel social discontent and lead to a loss of votes. Meanwhile, the opposition is seeking to capitalize on differences within the ruling party and US sanctions on corruption, to wrest power from a movement that has ruled the country for more than seven decades.
The political consultant Luis Toty Medina analyzed the presidential campaign in the South American country in dialogue with Infobae. A campaign that, as he indicated, “was significantly affected” after the accusations made by the US State Department about former President Horacio Cartes and the current vice president, Hugo Velázquez, who were sanctioned by Washington for their “involvement in systematic corruption that It has undermined democratic institutions in Paraguay.”
Facing the elections next month, the Venezuelan analyst acknowledged that these sanctions represent a headache for the ruling party and that, perhaps as never before, “it compromises the possibilities of the Colorado Party.”
Having said this, Medina clarified that even so, the National Republican Association -official name of the Party- “continues to be the most complete and strongest machinery in Paraguay” and has the “best organized campaign.”
Traditionally the sectors of the movement carried out strong internal ones facing the primaries. However, once the Paraguayans chose their candidate, he received the support of his opponents through the “republican embrace.” “The Republican embrace was the armistice that happened after the inmates, in which the candidates, after a stark campaign, hugged each other and said they were united. This time, it didn’t happen.”
Santiago Peña and Arnoldo Wiens met after the Colorado Party primary elections
The bases of the National Republican Association are divided by the Fuerza Republicana and Honor Colorado movements, headed by President Mario Abdo Benítez and his predecessor Horacio Cartes, respectively.
In the primaries on December 18, Chartism won a resounding victory. The formula formed by Santiago Peña and Pedro Alliana achieved the candidacy after obtaining 51.70% of the votes; behind was the duo Arnoldo Wiens and Juan Manuel Brunetti, a candidate for the ruling Fuerza Republicana.
The hug between Santiago Peña and Arnoldo Wiens did take place. The pre-candidates complied with the Party’s history, took a photo and announced that they will unify the candidacies with a view to the presidential elections. However, the “embrace” remained a mere formality, since the cracks and divisions persist. “They showed up together, but immediately President Abdo, an enemy of former President Cartes, had a public intervention saying that he would vote for list 1 with his nose covered, as if to say that it is not the most desirable list,” Medina commented.
The consultant explained that what was attempted was “a scar operation”: “It was nothing more than healing wounds. Within the Party, even the Chartist candidates, Honor Colorado, who won, have not fully united because some differences persist between them. On the other front, meanwhile, he indicated that what President Abdo Benítez sought was to work “with those of his tendency.”
President Mario Abdo Benítez ratified Hugo Velázquez as vice president, despite the sanctions imposed by the US (REUTERS / Cesar Olmedo)
The fracture began in 2018 when Cartes nominated Peña – Finance Minister at the time – as his candidate. Abdo Benítez decided to present himself and won the internship. Later, already in the exercise of the presidency, he “made a total review of Cartes’ management, exposed the shortcomings and possible acts of corruption of Cartes and his ministers.” The head of state even endorsed and supported the US sanctions against the former president. But the paradox of the case is that his vice president was also appointed. “What was proceeding was a request for his resignation to attend to these accusations, and what Abdo Benítez has done was ratify Velásquez in office, who was his candidate for president. It is the sanction of the United States that prevents Abdo Benítez from presenting him as his file within the inmates, and he has to use a plan B, which is Arnoldo Wiens, who was his Minister of Public Works ”.
Medina also analyzed the possibilities of the other candidates. Second in the polls is Efraín Alegre, who is running for the third time. The president of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party added Soledad Núñez to his formula, a young politician who was Minister of Housing for Cartes. “Efraín chose her as her partner, seeking the young vote, between 18 and 35, and the female vote.”
The consultant pointed out that the rest of the candidates “are nothing more than merely testimonial candidates.” “Euclides Acevedo could be said to be the most experienced, with a brilliant record of service to the Paraguayan people, he was an ambassador, diplomat, chancellor, minister of interior relations, and also a parliamentarian, and he is by far the most experienced candidate. He faced the Stroessner dictatorship. However, he has not managed to have an organized campaign that conveys to the rest of the Paraguayans that it is the best option.
The presidential formula Efraín Alegre-Soledad Núñez seeks to wrest power from the Colorado Party (REUTERS / Cesar Olmedo)
Then Paraguayo “Payo” Cubas and José Luis Félix Chilavert appear. The first “seeks to be the Paraguayan Bolsonaro, with xenophobic messages, from the extreme right,” according to Medina. Regarding the former soccer player’s campaign, he opined: “He has not managed to build a message, a narrative, a discourse that connects with Paraguayan society that allows him to be a main candidate. It has been a more amateurish campaign, very amateurish, not typical of someone who seeks perfection, and it has been a campaign that is not going to be a political reference for the future of Paraguay”.
The Venezuelan consultant indicated that the next president will receive a country with a greater debt, “in conditions of very wide inequality,” and warned about the growing acts of violence and the impact of drug trafficking. “Acts of hit men are taking place in the capital, and it has triggered the alerts of civil society. Few candidates, almost none, have offered any kind of response to this. Few candidates, except those who are in the border areas due to possible reprisals, dare or are encouraged to publicly counter that reality. He also spoke of “complacent relations” of certain sectors with the laundered drug dealer.
One month before the elections, the most reliable polls point to an advantage for Peña over Alegre. Some reflect a difference of 11 points, and others between 3 and 5 points. Although he considers that corruption cases affect the image of the Colorado Party, Medina clarifies at the same time that “the Paraguayan population normalized the issue of corruption.”
“If the public conversation debate focuses on inequality, on the lack of housing, on the unfortunate situation in which the educational infrastructure is, the Colorado Party fails, because it is the party that has governed for more than 70 years . Everything good and bad is due to the Colorado Party (…) When the discussion focuses on socioeconomic indicators, the loser is also the Colorado Party. But when the discussion focuses on corruption, the party distributes its burden, and the population assumes it as part of the national political landscape, ”he analyzed.
Paraguay Elections Tour 2023
World Wide Elections
Within the framework of these elections, between April 28 and 30, the “Paraguay Election Tour” will take place in the South American country, at the initiative of the “World Wide Elections” (WWE), the global political communication event that summons consultants, campaign strategists, analysts, the international press and workers in the field of government communication, “to analyze and experience the minute by minute of the electoral processes in the world.” An important opportunity to address and understand more deeply how this very particular campaign was developed.
Santiago Sautel is one of the leaders of WWE, which also has the consultancy of Luis Toty Medina. In dialogue with Infobae, he explained that it is “an organization that seeks to promote everything related to electoral systems in the world.”
The first experiences were in Argentina (2019) and Brazil (2022). The projected agenda for this year includes Paraguay and Argentina, and they seek to be able to participate in the elections in Spain.
“We carry out events in electoral frameworks, activities that are generally institutional, talks, with the objective that the participants will learn how the electoral system works where the event is taking place (…) So that they know the context in which the election takes place , the way in which the political spaces are constituted, the candidates, how the media play…”, Sautel pointed out.
For the first time, World Wide Elections was officially recognized as an International Observer Mission by the Paraguayan government’s Directorate of International Relations.
“World Wide Elections”: the global political communication event arrives in Paraguay in the framework of the presidential electionsParaguay, ready for the changing of the guardThe US sanctioned three Paraguayan politicians and prohibited them from entering the country
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