Democracy Now has a report on Paraguay's new President.
A former priest known as the “Bishop of the Poor,” Fernando Lugo is the first Paraguayan president since 1946 not to be from the conservative Colorado Party. He has pledged to give land to the landless and fight corruption. We speak to Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American History at NYU. [This link is an MP3]
In one of his first acts in office, Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo, has appointed an Indian woman to be minister of indigenous affairs. Margarita Mbywangi is a 46-year-old Ache tribal chief who was captured in the jungle as a girl and sold into forced labor several times with the families of large land owners. She spent the early part of her career as an activist defending her people’s land. Her appointment makes her the first indigenous person to oversee ethnic Indian affairs in Paraguay.
President Fernando Lugo formally named her to his Cabinet on Monday as he began setting up his government following his inauguration on Friday. A former priest known as the “Bishop of the Poor,” Lugo is the first Paraguayan president since 1946 not to be from the conservative Colorado Party. He has pledged to give land to the landless and fight corruption.
He is also the first bishop ever to become president of a country. Lugo says he was influenced by the liberation theology of the ’60s. Both Paraguay and the Vatican ban clergy from seeking political office, so Lugo resigned in December 2006. He said he would not marry during his five-year mandate. His sister will therefore act as the country’s first lady.
On Saturday, Lugo traveled to San Pedro, the province where he spent 11 years as bishop. He was accompanied by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who has promised to provide Paraguay with a steady supply of fuel. Appearing on stage together, Chavez gave Lugo a replica of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar’s sword. Brandishing the sword in his hand, Lugo pledged to fight for justice and end corruption.
Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at NYU and author of “Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism.”