Latin America & Caribbean

New Paraguayan President Abdo Benítez sworn in

Paraguay's new President Mario Abdo Benitez waves during his inauguration on 15 August, 2018. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mario Abdo Benítez was sworn in for a five-year term on Wednesday

Right-wing former Senator Mario Abdo Benítez has been sworn in as the new president of Paraguay after defeating his liberal rival in April elections.

Mr Abdo Benítez is the son of a close aide to ex-military dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and has faced criticism for defending the former leader's record.

He replaces Horacio Cartes. Both are from the conservative Colorado Party.

The 46-year-old says he will take a law-and-order stance and implement business-friendly policies.

Paraguay has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years.


Mario Abdo Benítez

  • Moved to the US aged 16 and studied marketing in Connecticut
  • Worked as a manager in construction
  • Got involved in politics in 2004
  • Founded a political faction with the grandson of Paraguay's former dictator Alfredo Stroessner
  • Opposes same-sex marriage and the legalisation of abortion

Source: BBC Monitoring


Gen Stroessner ruled the country from 1954 to 1989 and is viewed by critics as one of Latin America's most secretive and sinister dictators.

The new president has recently tried to distance himself from his father Mario Abdo Sr's political background, saying that he wants to be called by his nickname rather than the first name that he shares with his late father. "I am not the son of... I am Marito," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Abdo Benítez reportedly used a Chevrolet which was a favourite of Gen Stroessner's

However, media in Paraguay noted that he drove to his inauguration in a white Chevrolet used by Gen Stroessner to attend military parades.

The car belongs to Mr Abdo's family and has been used by other presidents following the return to democracy, including his predecessor, Horacio Cartes.

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