LatinNews Daily - 03 May 2023

PARAGUAY: Protests over election amid fraud claims

On 2 May Paraguay’s police chief Gilberto Fleitas said that at least 74 people had been arrested over violent protests which took place after Paraguayo Cubas, the populist third-placed candidate in the 30 April general election, alleged electoral fraud on his social media.


The protests, which took place in the capital, Asunción, outside the electoral authority (TSJE), as well as other parts of the country, highlight deep polarisation following the election. This had produced a convincing victory for the ruling Asociación Nacional Republicana-Partido Colorado (ANR-PC) and its presidential candidate Santiago Peña, who took 42.7% of the vote (to 22.9% for Cubas and 27.5% for Efraín Alegre of Concertación para un Nuevo Paraguay). While many protesters are supporters of Cubas, who performed better than expected, Alegre and the fourth-placed candidate, Euclides Acevedo, have also questioned the result, calling for a recount. As well as the TSJE, foreign observation missions such as those of the Organization of American States (OAS) and European Union (EU) maintain the election was credible.

  • Fleitas said that there had been protests in various departments and “numerous road closures”, while clashes with the police left at least 10 police officers injured.
  • Also indicative of the disruption, the Asociación de Transportadores del Interior del Paraguay (ATIP), an association grouping public transport companies in the centre of the country, announced yesterday that it was suspending services, citing a lack of guarantees for the safety of passengers and officials.
  • A preliminary report released yesterday by the OAS’s electoral observation mission (OAS/EOM) said it saw no reason to question Paraguay’s election results, citing the wide margin between candidates and the fact that it “did not observe grave incidents [nor] interruptions in the processing of sensitive electoral information nor grave deficiencies in those guarding electoral material.”
  • A report released yesterday by the EU’s electoral observation mission said that it “assessed the overall conduct of polling as good and described the process as transparent”, albeit while highlighting that elections took place “in a highly polarised environment where distrust in state institutions and political structures prevailed”.

Looking Ahead: While yesterday the TSJE ruled out the possibility of fraud, Cubas has shown little sign of backing down while Alegre is calling for a manual recount of 10% of votes and an international audit of the computer programmes used in electronic ballot boxes.

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