News Item: Cleric wins Paraguay Presidency, ending 62-year rule of Colorado Party

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Cleric wins Paraguay Presidency, ending 62-year rule of Colorado Party 20 Apr 2008
ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay — A former Roman Catholic bishop and self-styled champion of the poor on Sunday broke the 62-year grip on the presidency by the ruling party here, the longest-serving political party in the world.

The former bishop, Fernando Lugo, who resigned from the church two years ago to run, was leading with 41 percent of the vote, over Blanca Ovelar de Duarte, with 31 percent, with 92 percent of the votes counted, according to unofficial results. Shortly before 9 p.m., Mrs. Ovelar, the candidate for the National Republican Association, known as the Colorado Party, conceded defeat.

Mr. Lugo, 56, will be the first Paraguayan president since 1946 not to be from the Colorado Party. “Today we’ve written a new chapter in our nation’s political history,” he said late Sunday.

Source:New York Times

Timeline - Paraguay (A chronology of key events):

1525 - Portuguese explorer Alejo Garcia visits Paraguay.

1526 - Italian navigator Sebastian Cabot explores the rivers of Paraguay.

1537 - Spanish begin colonising the interior plains of Paraguay.

1609 - Spanish Jesuits begin converting the local population to Roman Catholicism.

1776 - Paraguay transferred from the Vice-royalty of Peru to the Vice-royalty of La Plata, which has its capital at Buenos Aires in Argentina.

1808 - Vice-royalty of La Plata becomes autonomous following the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy by Napoleon Bonaparte, but Paraguayans revolt against Buenos Aires.

Independence and war

1811 - Paraguay becomes independent.

1865-70 - Paraguay loses over half of its population and large tracts of land in war with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay over sea access.

1932-35 - Paraguay wins territory in the west from Bolivia during Chaco war.

From Stroessner to democracy

1954 - General Alfredo Stroessner seizes power in coup, ushering in more than 30 years of ruthless dictatorship.

1989 - Stroessner deposed in coup led by Gen Andres Rodriguez, who is then elected president. However, Stroessner's centre-right, military-backed National Republican Association-Colorado Party wins parliamentary elections.

1992 - New democratic constitution promulgated.

1993 - Colorado Party wins simple majority of seats in first free multiparty elections, while its candidate, Juan Carlos Wasmosy, wins first free presidential elections.

1998 - Colorado Party candidate Raul Cubas elected president amid allegations of fraud.

1999 - President Cubas resigns in wake of assassination of Vice-President Luis Maria Argana. Luis Gonzalez Macchi appointed caretaker president, forms government of national unity.

2000 October - An army major and two other men are sentenced to long prison terms for their roles in Argana's murder.

2000 May - Coup attempt foiled. Government blames "anti-democratic" forces loyal to exiled General Oviedo.

2001 May - Head of central bank resigns over alleged involvement in fraudulent transfer of $16m to US bank account.

2002 July - State of emergency declared after violent street protests. Protesters demand resignation of President Gonzalez Macchi and scrapping of free-market policies.

2002 December - Congress votes for impeachment proceedings against President Gonzalez Macchi over charges which include corruption. Mr Gonzalez Macchi survives a vote to remove him from office.

2003 August - Nicanor Duarte Frutos, from ruling Colorado Party, sworn in as president after winning April poll. Predecessor Luis Gonzalez Macchi barred from leaving country and put on trial on corruption charges.

2004 April onwards - Peasants stage series of land invasions and other protests, demanding redistribution of agricultural land.

2004 June - Former military commander General Oviedo returns from exile in Brazil and is arrested at airport.

2004 August - More than 420 people are killed in a blaze at a shopping centre in Asuncion. Three days of national mourning are declared.

2005 February - President Nicanor Duarte promises a crackdown on organised crime following the kidnapping and murder of the daughter of former president Raul Cubas.
Children at Paraguayan/Japanese school, 2006
Japanese immigrants once numbered tens of thousands

2005 June - Lower house rejects government proposals to privatise public utilities.

2005 August - Paraguay hosts the first-ever conference of landlocked nations. More than 30 states take part and demand preferential treatment in world trade talks.

2006 June - Luis Gonzalez Macchi, president from 1999-2003, is sentenced to six years in jail over illegal bank transfers.

2006 August - Former military ruler Alfredo Stroessner dies in exile in Brazil, aged 93.

2007 March - Government declares state of emergency in response to outbreak of dengue fever.

2007 September - The government declares a state of emergency after fires destroy more than 100,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land.

2008 April - Presidential elections.
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