Who is Mario Abdo Benítez, Paraguay’s new president?

ASUNCÍON – Paraguay’s new president has been sworn in this Wednesday. Mario Abdo Benítez, son of a close former aide to ex-military dictator Alfredo Stroessner, is the leader of the conservative Colorado party. Abdo Benítez promises to eradicate corruption and impunity, and to build an independent justice system.

Winning the April 22 elections, Mario Abdo Benítez has been sworn in as new president of Paraguay this Wednesday. As representative of the conservative sector, Abdo Benítez promises the country business-friendly policies, law and order, and the eradication of impunity and corruption, all backed by an independent justice system.

In his inaugural speech, Abdo Benítez said “We will build an independent justice system, to end impunity and corruption in our country, impunity is the cancer we must defeat. For how long is our people going to endure a relentless justice, which is rigid to the poorest citizens, but pleasant to the ones who have influence?

“We have the opportunity and the obligation to retake the people’s trust. We are all anxious to live in a better country, a fairer and more solidary Paraguay. I can feel there is a citizenship willing to make history,” he added.

Who is Mario Abdo Benítez?

The 46-year-old politician belongs to right-wing Colorado party and got involved in politics in 2004. Abdo Benítez was senator in congress, where he also served as president from 2015 to 2016. Abdo Benítez moved to the USA at the age of 16 and studied marketing at Teikyo Post University in Connecticut. He also pursued a military career in Paraguay, joining the armed forces in 1989 and becoming paratrooper.

Abdo Benítez has received strong criticism because he is the son of a close aide to ex-dictator Alfredo Stroessner, but also because he has shown support for Stroessner’s performance, saying the dictator “has done so much for the country.” However, Abdo Benítez clarified that he doesn’t support the human rights violations the Stroessner dictatorship committed.

According to BBC News, the new president has tried to distance himself from his father’s record, urging everyone to call him by his nickname Marito, and not by his first name, which he shares with his father.

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