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Latam Brief: Peña wins in Paraguay (May 1, 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing: Peña wins in Paraguay
Latin America Daily Briefing

Paraguayan Colorado Party candidate Santiago Peña won yesterday’s presidential election – continuing decades of party rule, and promising to maintain relations with Taiwan. (See last Friday’s post.)

Peña obtained 43% of the vote, compared to 27% for leftist challenger Efraín Alegre, who led a broad coalition hoping to defeat the Colorado Party, despite expert predictions that the race would be close. (TSJE)

The vote puts Paraguay at odds with the regional leftist and anti-incumbent trends, and could complicate the country’s relationship with the U.S., which in February accused Colorado Party leader Horacio Cartes of links to Hezbollah and paying millions of dollars in bribes, reports the New York Times. The new president-elect is Cartes’ protégé

The win reflects the incumbent Colorado Party’s strong political machine, according to several media reports, which overcame discontent among voters with corruption allegations, economic woes and discontent with social services. (ReutersAssociated Press)

The Colorado Party also obtained majorities in both houses of Congress and won 15 of the 17 governorships up for election. (ABC NoticiasGuardian)

Haitians form vigilante groups, lynch alleged criminals

Groups of outraged citizens lynch mobs that attacked suspected gangsters last week in Port-au-Prince. “The lynchings have sparked a strange and disturbing mix of horror, fear and optimism in Haitian communities fed up with being terrorised by the gangs,” reports the Guardian.

Experts and analysts deplored the bloodshed, even as they said it was unsurprising in light of the sheer brutality of gang territorial control in Haiti, police failure to control the violence against residents, and general institutional collapse.

“Gang expansion into areas previously considered safe…has been alarming,” according to a U.N. Security Council report released last week. Reported killings from January to March 31 have risen by more than 20% compared with the last quarter of 2022, and 637 kidnappings have been reported so far this year, an increase of 63% compared with the last three months of 2022, the report stated. (Associated Press)

More Haiti

  • Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Haitian Revolution hero Toussaint Louverture, last week, saying he embodied the true values of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. It was the first time a French leader paid official tribute to Louverture at the prison where he died, reports the New York Times.

  • Countries in the Americas should suspend forced returns of Haitians on the move and adopt measures to protect them instead, according to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which sounded the alarm after 36,000 people of Haitian origin were deported during the first three months of the year. The vast majority were deported from the Dominican Republic.

Regional Relations

  • Major Global South countries have sought to avoid taking sides in the intensifying standoff between the U.S., Russia and China — or exploit the rivalry for their own gain — according to new Discord Leaks documents. (Washington Post)

  • The U.S. and Mexico are in an increasingly acrimonious fight over what’s causing the fentanyl crisis — a dispute that could threaten security cooperation between the two countries as Republican leaders are “coalescing around the once-fringe idea of using the U.S. military to attack Mexico’s drug cartels and fentanyl labs,” reports the Washington Post.


  • Cuba’s government cancelled today’s Workers’ Day parade in Havana, due to gasoline shortages that are crippling the island’s economy, reports the Guardian.

  • “This is not Cuba’s first fuel shortage. But with no relief in sight, analysts and residents fear it might be one of the worst,” reports the New York Times.

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will soon release a much-anticipated investigation into the death of Cuban opposition member Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a 2012 car crash that supporters suspect was initiated by Cuban state-security agents, reports the Miami Herald.


  • Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement is “perhaps the world’s largest Marxist-inspired movement operating within a democracy and, after 40 years of sometimes bloody land occupations, a major political, social and cultural force” in the country, reports the New York Times.


  • Penguin Random House confirmed that a previously unpublished Gabriel García Márquez novel – titled En Agosto Nos Vemos – exists, and will sold next year. (Guardian)

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