From Priest to President 22:00, 2008 (Ref: SA08672)


Paraguay is believed to be among the three most corrupt countries in the world, and frequently ranks as the most corrupt nation in South America. Its central location means that its economy has benefited largely from large-scale contraband, operated by local mafias from neighbouring countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. For more than 60 years, only one political party has governed Paraguay – the Colorado Party – and for 35 of those years the country was ruled by General Stroessner, the Cold War era dictator who is believed to have embezzled up to $300m and given many ex-Nazis sanctuary in Paraguay. The upcoming presidential elections, however, are giving many Paraguayans hope for real change. Fernando Lugo is a former bishop who is promising to bridge the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor and finally move away from the hard-line anti-communist policies of the Colorado Party and implement a neo-socialist government.