Paraguay's main mayors were re-elected after a violent campaign

The mayors of the main cities of Paraguay were re-elected this Sunday in a municipal elections that were preceded by a unusual wave of violence against candidates and local supporters. More than 4.6 million citizens were able to elect the mayors and councilors of 261 cities. Participation averaged 60 percent, and the results were known a few hours after the closing of the tables due to the implementation of the electronic voting system.

The results of the elections are seen as the beginning of the strategies of the political formations to forge lists and alliances for 2023, when the presidential and legislative elections are held. The ruling Colorado Party retained the quartermaster Asuncion with the victory of Oscar “Nenecho” Rodríguez, who was fighting for reelection, but he lost in Ciudad del Este, second city in the country, where he presented Ulises Quintana, a candidate who was prisoner for a drug trafficking case.

The results in the main cities

The colorado Rodríguez prevailed in the Paraguayan capital with 47.50 percent of the votes, according to the website of the Transmission of Preliminary Election Results (TREP) of the Superior Court of Electoral Justice (TSJE). Behind Rodríguez were Eduardo Nakayama, from an alliance headed by the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA, the main opposition party), with 42.11 percent, and Johanna Ortega, from Asunción Somos Todos, with 4.68 percent.

Ortega had forced a court decision that forced the authorities of Asunción to show how a millionaire sum was used to attend the pandemic. There were purchases at exorbitant prices, acquisitions from companies close to officials and highly questioned maneuvers, to which the press gave a great display.

In Ciudad del Este, border with Brazil and commercial epicenter of the country, the independent candidate Miguel Prieto retained the post after garnering 61.85 percent of the votes. In second place was the Colorado Ulises Quintana, with 27.15 percent. Prieto took over the mayor’s office in 2019 in early elections that were called after the dismissal of Mayor Sandra McLeod, from the Colorado Party, who was investigated for several cases of corruption. At the same time Quintana was charged with drug trafficking and was held in a military jail.

In the meantime Roque Godoy, from the PLRA, was ratified as President Franco with 51.05 percent of the votes. They were also reelected Alcides Riveros, from the PLRA, in Fernando de la Mora, with 60.52 percent of the votes; José Carlos Acevedo, also from the PLRA, in Pedro Juan Caballero, with 55.03 percent, and Luis Yd, from an alliance of local parties in Encarnación, with 56.69 percent of the votes.

The day “took place amid complaints of electoral crimes such as vote buying and propaganda at polling stations,” according to the newspaper. ABC Color, which reported three detainees in different cities for having tried to vote with other people’s identity documents. The elections contained a novelty: the debut of the voting machine system. 15,139 were installed in the 1,135 polling stations, where 11,913 tables were set up, according to data from the TSJE.

President Mario Abdo Benitez He was the first citizen to cast his vote, minutes before seven, the official opening time of the polls, in a school in Asunción. The head of state withdrew from the site almost without giving a statement to the press, limiting himself to urging citizens to “go out and vote.” Later and with advanced scrutiny he assured: “Starting tomorrow We will work with all elected mayors, always thinking about the progress of our Paraguay“.

Escalation of violence

A highly worrisome issue for the authorities was the unusual level of violence that occurred during the campaign, that registered several deaths and attacks on local partisans and caravans. In the municipality of Itakyry, on September 22, the candidate for councilor Carlos Aguilera was assassinated, in a confrontation between factions of different forces.

On the night of September 30, two other would-be councilors were killed by gunmen’s bullets. who arrived on motorcycles, shot and fled: Néstor Echeverría in Pedro Juan Caballero and Bartolomé Morel Gauto in Nueva Germania. Last Wednesday, unknown men shot a truck in which Emiliano Nelson Cano Ozuna, candidate for mayor of the town of Hernandarias, was traveling., with his son.

The daughter of the governor of Amambay, Haylee Carolina Acevedo, 21, was killed on Saturday in an attack by hitmen also happened in Pedro Juan Caballero and in which four people died. The chain of homicides pushed the Minister of the Interior, Arnaldo Giuzzio, to meet with members of the TSJE to agree on reinforced security operations in the cities shaken by the wave of violence.

Efraín Alegre, leader of the PLRA, read a statement over the weekend in which, in addition to citing the country’s president, Mario Abdo Benítez, and his predecessor, Horacio Cartes, both from the Colorado Party, he demanded the removal of the Interior Minister. “The unstoppable and unbridled wave of murders and acts of violence is the absolute responsibility of the government of the Colorado Party”, points to the text.

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