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  • Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes (R) could face impeachment.

    Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes (R) could face impeachment. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 January 2017

Horacio Cartes came to power following the impeachment of leftist former President Fernando Lugo.

Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes could face an impeachment process as the opposition within Congress launched a bid against him Monday for "violating the constitution" and issuing "deceiving propaganda."

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The Liberal Party, the main opposition against President Cartes' conservative right-wing Colorado Party — also the party of former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner — announced the move Monday.

According to Liberal Party President Efrain Alegre, the opposition is also working on filing a complaint against Cartes for "violating the constitution," after he gathered signatures from public workers to carry out a constitutional reform as a tool to push for presidential re-election, something forbidden by Paraguay's constitution.

"This is like in the time of the Stroessner dictatorship," said Alegre. "That's how it began, we're just violating one article, and then another, and that's how we got Stroessner for 35 years."

Alegre slammed "deceiving" electoral campaign efforts in favor of Cartes' re-election, as the general elections are scheduled to take place in 2018.

"There is a congressional commission that is working on the accusation to present in the chamber," said Alegre during a press conference at the party's headquarters in the capital city Asuncion.

ANALYSIS:
Paraguay Yearns for Justice Three Years on from Coup

"The only valid procedure to acquire presidential re-election is a constitutional reform done through a Constitutional Assembly," said Alegre.

Cartes’ administration began in 2013, following the parliamentary coup that ousted leftist President Fernando Lugo, the first progressive president in the country's modern history. Cartes has championed neoliberal policies and seen high disapproval ratings throughout his term.

The right-wing politicians manipulated the 2012 Curuguaty massacre — in which clashes between police forces and landless campesinos resulted in 17 deaths — as a pretext to push for Lugo's ouster. Despite indications that at least nine of the victims were executed by police officers during a violent eviction, 12 campesinos were charged with premeditated homicide, invasion of property and criminal association. The events of Curuguaty and the related crimes were never fully investigated.

Lugo's presidency marked a break with the status quo with promises to roll out new social programs and develop long-neglected agrarian reform and tackle systemic corruption, two challenges that remain central political issues in the country. His removal from office played a key role in kicking off the conservative rollback of progressive governments in Latin America.

Lugo is set to run for the country's top office in the next election in 2018.

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