The political and economic history of the country is very similar to other nations in South America, although it is less well known
Paraguay is one of the South American nations that is least heard on the news. Surrounded by Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, this small nation of the Southern Cone has managed to go unnoticed for many years, although it has so much to tell.
Although this year the history of Latin America revolves around the presidential elections of Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, only a few days ago Paraguay held general elections where the candidate for the Colorado Party (Partido Colorado, in Spanish), Mario Abdo Benítez, was elected as the first president of this nation with 46.46% of the votes.
Although the results did not give more than 4 points of advantage to the pro-government candidate over the opposition Efraín Alegre, it represent a new victory for a party that has dominated the politics of Paraguay for more than a century, and that has been in the power 70 of the last 75 years of this nation, according to The Economist magazine.
The history of the Colorado Party seems to be the history of Paraguay. Founded in 1887, this movement characterized by conservative and nationalist ideas has led the political history of Paraguay since then. Not only a large part of the presidents of this nation have been members of the party, also the dictator Juan Alfredo Stroessner, who was in power from 1954 to 1989, was a member of it. And if that were not enough, the new president of the nation is the son of the former private secretary of dictator Stroessner.
The coup d'état that ended with Stroessner's 35 years of mandate and that allowed the return of the democracy to Paraguay, left another member of the Colorado Party as President of the Republic. In fact, only Fernando Lugo in 2008 paused the political hegemony of the party, although he was dismissed in June 2012 after a political trial, according to the Paraguayan newspaper La Nación .
Without giving much to talk about, Paraguay has been one of the nations in the southern cone that had the most constant growth in recent years. According to reporter Benedict Mander of the Financial Times, this has been possible thanks to the continued economic growth that averaged 6% over the last five years. According to Mander in an article published in that newspaper, one of the main reasons for this growth is public investment in infrastructure, which is possible thanks to a doubling in public debt levels.
In fact, Paraguayan politics for a few years has focused on maintaining high levels of investment in infrastructure, opening employment opportunities for the local population, but increasing the country's external debt to a high 24.1% by the end of 2017. Part of the Foreign direct investment that has arrived in Paraguay in recent years is composed of Brazilian entrepreneurs who settle in Ciudad del Este, a city that represents a paradise in terms of taxes and regulations.
And yet, the informal economy has also grown in Paraguay for some years through its border with Brazil. The smuggling of tobacco to the neighboring country, for example, represents one of the main channels of informality and has been the main subject of the accusations against outgoing President Horacio Cartes. However, the main role is carried by marijuana. Paraguay is the first producer of marijuana in South America, and according to the National Anti-Drug Secretariat of Paraguay (SENAD) in an article published by BBC, 80% of that drug is sold to criminal organizations in Brazil.
Latin American Post | Laura Delgado
Translated from "Paraguay: Una historia de dictaduras, corrupción política, crecimiento económico y narcotráfico"