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Paraguay election: Mario Abdo Benítez victory recalls brutal dictatorship

An election marketing campaign that revived reminiscences of Paraguay’s bloody 1954-89 dictatorship has ended with Mario Abdo Benítez – son of the non-public secretary to Alfredo Stroessner – narrowly snatching victory from a centre-left coalition.

Abdo Benitez, 46 – from a conservative wing of the ruling Colorado Celebration – thanked his opponent – Efraín Alegre, 55, of the Alianza grouping – for a “wholesome pageant”. Abdo Benítez promised to paintings for nationwide harmony.

“From these days, pointless department is done. The talk is over,” he mentioned in a victory speech on Sunday. “We’re developers, and all are welcome who wish to construct the way forward for this homeland.”

Previous within the day, the Colorado candidate, who was once 17 and learning in the United States when Stroessner was once pressured into exile, visited his father’s mausoleum – instantly subsequent to the grave of South The usa’s longest-serving dictator.

Abdo Benítez was once a pallbearer at Stroessner’s funeral in 2006, getting into politics in the similar 12 months after founding the “Peace and Development” Colorado motion – named after Stroessner’s favoured slogan – with the dictator’s grandson.

He defeated a technocratic candidate, Santiago Peña – the most popular successor of the present president, Horacio Cartes – in Colorado primaries in December, taking pictures the agricultural Colorado base thru his opposition to Cartes’s debt-heavy financial fashion.

At the path, Abdo Benítez emphasized circle of relatives values and hinted at implementing necessary army provider. He many times refused to sentence the dictatorship outright, expressing feel sorry about for the 425 other folks killed and just about 19,000 tortured underneath Stroessner however emphasising what he referred to as the “achievements” of the army regime.

But for lots of Colorado electorate, the dictatorship had little relevance for the election. “The problem of Stronismo, that’s from some other generation,” mentioned Nelson Zamudio, a shopkeeper within the southeastern town of Coronel Oviedo.

Many younger other folks – smartly over part of the inhabitants – actually have a hazy figuring out of the Stroessner duration. Mauricio Galeano, 18, was once not sure methods to mark his poll for the primary time. “With reference to dictatorship, sure, I believe the legislation will have to be enforced,” he mentioned, mentioning standard fears about crime and lack of confidence.

But Sunday’s vote didn’t solely move as anticipated. In spite of the polls mechanically giving Abdo Benítez a lead of 10-25 issues, effects got here right down to the twine, with Alegre shedding by means of simply three.7 issues – the bottom margin since Paraguay’s go back to democracy.

The shut end result means that the top of Colorado hegemony – interrupted for best 5 years prior to now 70 – is nigh, mentioned Eduardo Nakayama, a historian and chief of the Alianza’s Liberal celebration.

And Abdo Benítez should make “political compromises” to get anything else thru congress, mentioned Claudia Pompa, a political analyst. Alianza and a crop of smaller events have picked up extra seats, denying the Colorados a majority.

Activists have vowed to stay running to loosen the grip of Paraguay’s conservative political events.

“It’s very difficult, however we will be able to’t do not anything,” mentioned Gerónimo Ayala, a Mbyá Guaraní architect who narrowly neglected out on being elected Paraguay’s first indigenous congressman. “The motion will proceed. The battle is worthwhile.”

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