The Wasmosy Government
Juan Carlos Wasmosy, the candidate for the Colorado Party, won the presidential election on 9 May 1993 with 40 per cent of the vote, beating Domingo Laíno of the Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico (PLRA) (32 per cent) and Guillermo Caballero Vargas of the Encuentro Nacional (EN) (23 per cent). He thus became the first civilian president of Paraguay for 39 years. Wasmosy, a 54-year-old civil engineer, had made his fortune from construction contracts on the Itaipú hydro-electric dam project during the Stroessner era. He was a political novice with no previous militancy in the Colorado Party and had been hand-picked by the armed forces in the face of widespread opposition from within the party. His main internal rival had been Luís María Argaña, leader of the Movimiento de Reconciliatión Colorado (MRC) faction. Argaía, a populist demagogue and leading conservative figure within the party who was wedded to the corporativist political system built up during the stronato, had beaten Wasmosy in the party primary on 27 December 1992, but was subsequently deprived of the presidential nomination through fraud. The presidential election result surprised observers. Opinion polls had predicted a victory by Caballero Vargas of the EN, with Wasmosy running a poor third. Although a team of international observers pronounced the elections fair, the dramatic improvement in Wasmosy’s rating in the final weeks of the campaign reflected a furious last-minute campaign in his favour by his Colorado and military supporters.
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