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Who is Paraguay’s president-elect, Santiago Pena? | Elections News

Santiago Pena, a former central banker, has gained Paraguay’s presidential election, seeing off a powerful problem from centre-left chief Efrain Alegre.

The previous Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) economist, who was hand-picked by the highly effective head of the nation’s dominant political pressure, the conservative Colorado Get together, scored a powerful victory in presidential elections on Sunday.

Pena, 44, secured 43 % of the vote to 27.5 % for Alegre, in response to preliminary outcomes from the nation’s electoral courtroom.

“Immediately, we aren’t celebrating a private triumph. We’re celebrating the victory of a individuals who with their vote selected the trail of social peace, dialogue, fraternity and nationwide reconciliation,” Pena mentioned in his victory speech, including that there was “lots to do”, significantly in reviving the economic system.

“The time has come to postpone our variations to prioritise the frequent causes that unite us as a nation,” he mentioned.

Pena will take workplace on August 15.

A contemporary face of institutional energy

Fast to smile and described as affable, Pena is the contemporary face of an outdated establishment.

Often known as “Santi”, he turned a father on the age of 17 when his now-wife Leticia Ocampos turned pregnant.

Early parenthood didn’t cease him from furthering his schooling, however he mentioned it was a “tough” time that helped form his political profession.

“It led me to construct on very strong ideas of dedication, of accountability, of honesty, of integrity, of figuring out that there are individuals who depend upon you. And with out realising it, once I was 17, I started to develop a vocation of service,” Pena mentioned.

Pena is a defender of what he describes as conventional household values and is against abortion and homosexual marriage.

For him, a household is comprised of “mom, father and youngsters.”

His son is now 26, and the couple additionally has a 17-year-old daughter.


After changing into a father as a young person, Pena was inspired to get an schooling by household. He studied economics at college in Paraguay earlier than heading to Columbia College in New York for his postgraduate schooling.

He then labored as an economist on the central financial institution in Paraguay’s capital, Asuncion, earlier than becoming a member of the IMF in Washington, DC. He later returned to Paraguay as a member of the central financial institution board.

Those that know Pena described him to the Reuters information company as “clean-cut”, “first rate” and having “good concepts”. Critics mentioned he’s a member of the out-of-touch elite who lacks political expertise and is performing as a puppet of Colorado Get together chief and former President Horacio Cartes, Pena’s important backer.

“He isn’t a politician who needs a revolution – he needs evolution,” mentioned a businessman with investments in Paraguay who is aware of Pena personally and requested to not be named.

Supporters mentioned Pena will be capable to hold a cool head throughout any tumult.

“I believe what characterises him is that he has infinite tranquility,” mentioned Lea Gimenez, who served as Pena’s deputy when he was finance minister and was later finance minister herself.

“Even throughout this election marketing campaign, which has been so lengthy as a result of now we have been within the course of for nearly a yr and a half, I’ve not seen him as soon as lose his mood,” she mentioned.

“He’s very serene. His peace of thoughts is spectacular,” a collaborator informed the AFP information company.

Political newcomer

Pena made a primary try on the presidency in 2017 when he misplaced the get together main to the person he’ll now substitute after a constitutionally restricted single time period, Mario Abdo Benitez.

He entered politics as finance minister through the presidency of Cartes, who’s below United States sanctions for alleged corruption.

Pena’s detractors describe him as Cartes’s secretary.

Alegre went even additional, describing Pena because the “servant” of Cartes and the get together as a corrupt establishment.

However Pena was nonchalant concerning the criticism and has pledged business-friendly insurance policies that target job creation, holding taxes low and attracting overseas funding.

“He matured in a short time, being a younger father. … He turned an grownup in a short time,” a former colleague informed Reuters. “‘Santi’ has quite a lot of life expertise and is a pure negotiator.”

Taiwan and Israel

Pena mentioned he’ll protect diplomatic relations with Taiwan regardless of calls for from the agricultural and livestock industries to open up an export market to China.

Paraguay is certainly one of solely 13 international locations to recognise Taiwan.

Additionally on the diplomatic entrance, Pena informed AFP that he would transfer Paraguay’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Paraguay had moved its embassy there in 2018 below Cartes however reversed its resolution inside months, frightening anger from Israel, which closed its personal mission in Asuncion in retaliation.

“Sure, I’d return to Jerusalem,” Pena informed AFP earlier than Sunday’s vote.

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