Former Finance Minister Santiago Peña, 44, has been inaugurated as the new president of Paraguay. In his inaugural speech, Peña expressed his commitment to serving the people with humility and determination. He pledged to sustain and consolidate the necessary competencies to govern successfully. With Peña’s ascension to the presidency, the Colorado Party, which has ruled the country almost uninterrupted for the past 71 years, will remain in power for another five years.
Peña’s political rival within the party, Mario Abdo Benítez, stepped down from power to make way for the new president, who arrives with the endorsement of former President Horacio Cartes. Peña, who began his political career in the opposition party Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), joined the Colorados in 2016 and served as Cartes’s minister. He had previously made an unsuccessful attempt to reach the presidency in 2017.
After being elected with nearly 43% of the vote in the general elections on April 30, Peña was sworn in as president alongside his cabinet ministers. Prior to his political career, Peña had a background in economics and finance, having worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Central Bank of Paraguay.
Peña’s presidency will be marked by various challenges. He aims to maintain a controlled economy and improve its performance while addressing the urgent needs of people living in poverty. Additionally, he has vowed to create half a million new jobs and strengthen Paraguay’s position on the international stage.
The relationship between Peña and former President Cartes is a subject of scrutiny, with some viewing Peña as Cartes’ protege. Despite accusations of corruption against Cartes by the United States, Peña has maintained a close relationship with him. Peña asserts that he acted with autonomy during his time in Cartes’ government.
As president, Peña will also need to navigate a divided Colorado Party and foster internal unity. He emphasized the importance of Paraguay’s relationship with Taiwan, expressing a desire to strengthen ties and highlighting the friendly and cooperative spirit between the two nations.
Overall, Peña’s presidency holds both promise and challenges as he seeks to lead Paraguay towards economic growth, poverty alleviation, and international recognition.