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Cable sobre el perfil ideológico del presidente paraguayo Fernando Lugo

Poco antes de la toma de posesión de Fernando Lugo, en agosto de 2008, la Embajada de EEUU en Asunción sitúa la línea política del presidente electo: "Tiene principios populistas (no necesariamente incendiarios)". "Se identifica más con el presidente uruguayo Tabaré Vázquez"

ID: 156405
Date: 2008-06-02 15:32:00
Origin: 08ASUNCION358
Source: Embassy Asuncion
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Dunno: 06ASUNCION1280 06ASUNCION348 08ASUNCION263
Destination: VZCZCXRO9037
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL
RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHAC #0358/01 1541532
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 021532Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6953
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 0596
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY
RHEHNCS/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ASUNCION 000358

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

WHA/FO; WHA/BSC MDRUCKER, BFRIEDMAN, KBEAMER; NSC DFISK;
DS/DSS/ITA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2028
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PREL, SNAR, PA, XM
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT-ELECT FERNANDO LUGO: A PROFILE

REF: A. 06 ASUNCION 1280 B. 06 ASUNCION 348 C. ASUNCION 263


Classified By: DCM Michael J. Fitzpatrick; reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

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SUMMARY
-------

1. (S) President-elect Fernando Lugo will need to rely on his
diverse background to govern Paraguay and hold together the
varied interests in his political coalition. Lugo comes from
a family of long-time Colorado dissidents, particularly vocal
during the Stroessner years. After distinguished national
military service, Lugo began his own career as a teacher in
1969 but soon found his calling in the Catholic Church.
Ordained a bishop in 1994, Lugo was assigned to the
Archdiocese of San Pedro for 11 years before stepping down.
Lugo launched the organization Citizen Resistance in March
2006 and made his political start by speaking at a massive
political rally the same month, leading many to believe that
he would be the only presidential candidate who could defeat
the Colorados in the April 2008 election. While Lugo's
quiet, affable style should help him build consensus in the
next government, other aspects of his personality, such as
his avoidance of confrontation, could hinder his ability to
govern. Sensitive reporting suggests that some members of
Lugo's inner circle maintain ties to representatives of
Venezuelan President Chavez and that Lugo himself has loose
personal ties to members of Paraguay's Free Fatherland Party
(PPL), the all-but-defunct leftist micro-party with an armed
wing. Lugo leveraged his status with the Catholic Church and
reputation for honesty to win the presidency; he will need
more than just a little help from "upstairs" to govern as
president. END SUMMARY.

----------------
POLITICAL ROOTS
----------------

2. (C) President-elect Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez will
need his diverse background to govern Paraguay and hold
together the varied interests represented in his political
coalition. Lugo's political organization is the Patriotic
Alliance for Change (APC), comprised of 12 political parties
and nine political movements, centered principally on the
Radical Authentic Liberal Party (PLRA), Paraguay's largest
and oldest opposition political party. Lugo is a registered
member of Paraguay's (largely irrelevant) Christian
Democratic Party. His vice president-elect, Luis Federico
Franco Gomez, is a long-time PLRA member. Lugo has thrived
in the social and religious arenas by reaching out to the
poor and disenfranchised, largely with populist (though not
necessarily incendiary) principles.

3. (C) Lugo comes from a family of long-time Colorado
dissidents, particularly vocal during the Stroessner years.
He was born on May 30, 1951, in San Pedro del Parana (Itapua
Department) to Guillermo Lugo and Maximina Mendez Fleitas.
His uncle, Epifanio Mendez Fleitas, was a renowned dissident
Colorado leader and rival to dictator Alfredo Stroessner who
fled in exile to Uruguay in 1956. Mendez Fleitas founded the
Popular Colorado Movement (MOPOCO) in 1959, a dissident
Colorado revolutionary group that advocated Stroessner's
overthrow. Lugo told DCM his father Guillermo was detained
twenty times during Stroessner's 35-year reign; his brothers
were tortured and exiled. (His sister Mercedes puts their
father's lifetime total arrests at 38.) Their brother
Pompeyo remains a dissident Colorado (ref A), another brother
lives in France; their final brother died of natural causes.
Despite his family's strong political traditions, Fernando
Lugo himself remained politically disengaged until he
resigned from the priesthood in 2006 to pursue politics full
time.

---------------------
CAREER IN THE CHURCH
---------------------

4. (U) As a young man, Fernando Lugo finished first in his
class during his obligatory military service. Yet Lugo was
denied a military commission because of his family's
opposition to Stroessner. Lugo then began his career as a
teacher in 1969 but soon found his calling in the Catholic
Church. He earned his undergraduate degree in religious
science from the Catholic University of Asuncion in 1977, the
same year the Catholic Church ordained him as a priest. Lugo
served as a missionary in Ecuador from 1977 until 1982, where
he learned the principles of Liberation Theology under
Leonidas Proanho, the "Bishop of the Poor." He returned to
Paraguay in 1982 and served one year as an apprentice in the
Order of the Divine Word. He studied spirituality and
sociology in Italy from 1983 to 1987, earning a bachelor's
degree in sociology from Gregoriana University in Rome.
(There are reports the Church sent him abroad repeatedly --
Italy, Germany, Ecuador, Peru -- to protect him from
Stroessner's regime.) Lugo served from 1987 to 1992 as a
professor at the Superior Institute of Theology in Asuncion,
as head of the Order of the Divine Word, and as vice
president of the Religious Confederation of Paraguay.

5. (C) The Church ordained Lugo as a bishop in 1994 and
assigned him to the Archdiocese of San Pedro, one of the
poorest areas in this poor country -- and one intentionally
marginalized by the Colorados because of a strong Liberal
Party presence, which occasionally manifested itself in the
form of rural armed groups over the decades. During his
11-year tenure as bishop, Lugo fought for campesino rights
and organized the region's peasant movement. He resigned as
bishop in January 2005. Pope John Paul II accepted his
resignation in January 2006 and he thus acquired the title of
Bishop Emeritus of San Pedro. Lugo submitted his petition to
resign from the clergy in December 2006 to run for president;
the Vatican denied his request in January 2007. (NOTE:
Press reports in 2005 indicated that the Paraguayan Episcopal
Conference (CEP) announced that it had no objections to
Lugo's activities as bishop and believed his actions were
intended to address social injustices and poverty. However,
other 2005 press reports indicated that the CEP forced Lugo
to resign as bishop because of his association with inciting
land invasions that resulted in violence as well as a rumor
that Lugo fathered a child. The Church must still decide
whether to accept Lugo's rsignation, provide a "temporary
dispensation," or excommunicate him after he assumes the
presidency on August 15. END NOTE.)

-------------
LEFTIST TIES?
-------------

6. (S/NF) Sensitive reporting indicates that some members of
Lugo's inner circle have ties to representatives of
Venezuelan President Chavez. These Lugo insiders claim that
he supports Chavez' plans for Latin America; Lugo has stated
publicly and privately (to Embassy officials) that he will
not align himself with Chavez. Lugo volunteered to OAS chief
of electoral mission (and former Colombia Foreign Minister)
Maria Emma Mejia early April 21 that while Chavez was the
first president to congratulate him April 20, he does not
know Chavez and was delighted that the U.S. Ambassador was in
fact the first caller to congratulate him and to offer
support for his government. One party in Lugo's coalition,
the P-MAS (Paraguayan Movement towards Socialism), receives
Venezuelan financial support. When pressed publicly, Lugo
has publicly identified himself as closest in ideology and
management style to Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

7. (S/NF) Sensitive reporting also suggests Lugo himself has
loose ties to members of the Free Fatherland Party (PPL) --
the tiny Paraguayan Marxist-Leninist party which developed an
armed wing in the early part of the decade, and which has
roots in San Pedro and Concepcion Departments. (NOTE: The PPL
today is all but disbanded. END NOTE.) Several PPL leaders
are reportedly ex-seminarians, although Lugo has publicly
denied having been their instructor (which is not to say that
they did not know each other in Paraguay's small circle of
clergy). During the just-concluded presidential campaign, it
was publicly alleged that Lugo assisted PPL members in
planning and executing the 2004 kidnapping of former
president Raul Cubas Grau's daughter, Cecilia Cubas, and to
have helped PPL members escape Paraguayan justice. Lugo has
publicly denied the same. Lugo is not known to have links to
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); Lugo told
Maria Emma Mejia April 21 that he is inclined to publicly
declare (post-inauguration) the FARC "a terrorist
organization." He stressed to Mejia he had no problem with
the use of the word terrorist to describe them since "the
FARC killed my friend." (NOTE: No Further Information
available.) Lugo signed a petition in 2000 against USG
funding for Plan Colombia. The petition, drafted by members
of the PPL (which was then a legal party), was sent to the
Foreign Affairs Ministry and foreign embassies. Lugo, along
with President Chavez and many others, also signed a 2006
manifesto opposing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
in Latin America.

8. (S) NOTE: Lugo privately told DCM April 17 (i.e., several
days before his election), that he was convinced that corrupt
elements of the police (if not certain Colorado politicians)
had protected the PPL kidnappers, whom he said were
responsible for the kidnapping and ultimate killing of
Cecilia Cubas. He said a police officer came to him with
information as to where Cubas was then being held. (Lugo was
still Bishop of San Pedro at this time.) He said they
jointly went to see the Interior Minister (Nelson Mora) the
night of December 6-7, 2004, provided him the address -- and
even told him that a police officer (and possible suspect)
lived next door to the house where Cubas was being held.
Lugo said the Minister assured them he was already aware, and
that "all was being taken care of." The police officer
accompanying Lugo, however, was suddenly reassigned the next
day. Lugo recalled that the Minister publicly declared "We
know where you are" and gave the PPL "24 hours" to surrender
-- but no action was taken. (COMMENT: This statement is
confirmed by contemporary press reports. END COMMENT.) Cuba's
body was only recovered in February 2006, from the same house
Lugo says they had identified to the Interior Minister in
December. Lugo told DCM he had recently had it confirmed to
him that the PPL kidnappers had even used the car owned by
their policeman neighbor. Lugo told DCM that though he did
not have a complete understanding as to the extent of
official (or semi-official) protection that had gone on, he
was toying with the idea of a national inquiry into the case,
should he become president, saying, "the people have a right
to know." The Interior Minister and several dozen police
officials were all sacked following the discovery of Cuba's
body. END NOTE.

-------------------------------
TRANSITION INTO FORMAL POLITICS
-------------------------------

9. (C) Lugo launched the organization Citizen Resistance in
March 2006 and burst onto the national political scene as a
last-minute speaker at a massive political rally on March 29,
2006. Lugo spoke to about 35,000 people and against the
decision by five members of the Supreme Court to affirm
Duarte (contrary to the Constitution) as president of both
the government and Colorado Party. Many began to suggest
that he should run and could defeat the Colorados in the 2008
presidential election. Lugo organized other marches against
the Colorados and supported launching the opposition
political movement Tekojoja in June 2006. (He once pointedly
corrected an embassy officer, however, who suggested he was
the leader of Tekojoja.) He subsequently formally registered
as a member of the (micro) Christian Democratic Party. Lugo
won the support of the PLRA in June 2007 when he agreed to
accept a member of the PLRA as his running mate. The
political opposition formed the APC, Lugo's current alliance,
in September 2007 from the remnants of the National Assembly
(Concertacion Nacional), which splintered when the National
Union of Ethical Citizens Party (UNACE) and Beloved
Fatherland Party (PQ) fielded their own presidential tickets.

-------------------------------
PERSONALITY AND OTHER BIO NOTES
-------------------------------

10. (C) While Lugo's quiet, affable style should help him
build consensus in the next government, other aspects of his
personality, such as his avoidance of confrontation, could
hinder his ability to govern. Lugo generally connects well
with people (although he is reportedly uncomfortable with
women) and has thus far been successful in attracting a
diverse support base. He is said to be an expert in "human
nature" and is a quick and accurate judge of character.
Personally a quiet, unpretentious and serene individual, Lugo
cares little for physical possessions. He typically wears
sandals, because that is who he is. (He says he has owned two
suits in his life; one for high school graduation and another
for his ordination. He bought his third for the May 16
Ibero-American Summit in Lima, Peru.) However, his strong
populist leanings -- including a reputation for detesting
flaunting of wealth by the rich -- could lead to rifts with
the political establishment. Likewise, even Lugo's closest
advisors worry that he will walk away from conflict within
his own alliance. His reportedly already-strained
relationship with Vice President-elect Federico Franco
indicates that he may not be able to work effectively with
influential members of his own alliance (let alone with the
Colorados). But he also has demonstrated an iron will, and
is not easily moved from strongly held positions.

11. (SBU) Given his career as a member of the Catholic
clergy, Lugo is unmarried (although he is rumored to have
fathered several illegitimate children). Lugo told DCM April
17 that he admires Nelson Mandela, and particularly, how
Mandela defied predictions of impending social strife to
bring his country together and move it forward together.
(NOTE: Lugo was reading a Mandela biography at the time,
which was on his coffee table during the meeting). Lugo
speaks Spanish, Guarani, Portuguese, Italian, and at least
some German. He has also studied English.

-------
COMMENT
-------

12. (C) Lugo leveraged his status with the Catholic Church
and reputation for honesty to win the presidency, but he will
need more than just a little help from "upstairs" to govern
as president. It is unclear whether Lugo has the skills
needed to run Paraguay (he reportedly caused an NGO he
managed for one year to fail), but his historic win with over
40 percent of the vote gives him strong momentum that will
help him govern in the short term (ref C). In terms of the
direction Lugo will take, many questions remain. He is a
leftist at heart, but given the Liberal Party's influence in
his coalition and Congress' strong role in the Paraguayan
government, he will likely have to steer a center-left
course. Lugo's ties to Venezuela and others bear monitoring,
but so far, his signals to the United States Embassy have
been clear -- he is grateful for our offers of assistance and
wants a close relationship. If you can't believe a priest,
who can you believe? END COMMENT.

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