"The election of Fernando Lugo as president of Paraguay signals the latest advance of the left in Latin America and the end of more than six decades of rule by a political party best known for a longtime anti-communist dictatorship."
"Lugo, a bespectacled former Roman Catholic bishop, appears to be among the more moderate left-leaning leaders of South America, where only two major nations, Colombia and Peru, continue to be run by conservatives."
"[M]any Paraguayans were euphoric at the prospect of change of a party apparatus condemned as corrupt and incompetent. Thousands celebrated on the streets. "I'm 59 years old. I was born with the Colorado Party in power," said Eladio Casanova, a waiter downtown. "But I didn't want to die with the Colorado Party still in power."'
More excerpts from Paraguay moves left with President-elect Fernando Lugo
The now-dominant left in South America has taken many forms -- from the stridently anti-U.S. rhetoric of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales to the generally pro-Washington sentiments of Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Chile's Michelle Bachelet. Lugo, 56, dubbed "the bishop of the poor," is seen as independent from the U.S. but not hostile.
Part of the perception that Lugo will govern as a moderate stems from the broad-based representation in Lugo's victorious Patriotic Alliance for Change, whose members range from the far left to the right. The coalition's key institutional anchor is Paraguay's Authentic Liberal Radical Party, a well-established conservative party with broad U.S. contacts.
Lugo noted Washington's sometimes-contradictory role in Latin America - and especially in Paraguay. Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, who ran the country with an iron fist for 35 years, was a U.S. Cold War ally before his government's abysmal human rights record soured ties with Washington and he was ousted in 1989. His Colorado Party held power for more than 60 years before Lugo's victory.
"The United States ... has sustained the great dictatorships, but afterward lifted the banner of democracy," Lugo noted.
However, he said, Washington must acknowledge a new scenario in which Latin American governments "won't accept any type of intervention from any country, no matter how big it is."
U.S. interventions -- coups, invasions, funding of armed groups -- have cast a shadow over relations between the United States and the region. Latin American leaders, including Lugo, are united in demanding noninterference from Washington.
"They don't see themselves as part of the strategic preserve of the United States," said Shifter
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"Asked to define his politics, Lugo has said he would negotiate an "intermediate line," somewhere between the hard left of Chavez and Morales and the more moderate stance of Lula and Bachelet. "We have to make our own road toward integration and not be an island between progressive governments," Lugo told the Spanish daily El Pais."