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The socialist wind currently blowing through South America reached Paraguay this year with the election of leftist Chavez-ally Fernando Lugo. On his first day, the ex-bishop announced that he would be renouncing his entire salary and donating it to the poor. Not like other presidents then...
Paraguay's head of state doesn't earn a great deal - at US$72,000 [AP] (€49,000) he's lagging well behind French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who doubled his salary to €240,000 when he came into power. He's also far from Singaporean President Lee Hsien Loong, who is possibly the highest paid president in the world, with around €1.5m a year. Only his neighbour in Bolivia, Evo Morales, seems to be worse off, with around €15,000.
Either way, Lugo announced the decision to give up his pay at his inauguration on August 15. "I have no need of this money, which belongs to more humble people," he told the audience. The friendly philanthropist makes a change for Paraguay, which has been ruled for the past six decades, largely under military dictatorship, by the right-wing Colorado Party.
Ada Carolina Bogado is a lawyer from the capital, Asuncion. She runs a blog.
According to one published paper, the personal wealth of the heirs of Paraguayan presidents Stroessner, Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Wasmosy, and Raúl Cubas would exceed 1,000 million dollars. That would not be weird in a developed country, but it is something offensive in a country where 50% of the population is poor and there are more than 300,000 peasants without land.
The previous president, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, was a journalist living in a rented house and could hardly make ends meet. Two decades later he owns highly expensive properties and private harbours dealing with Chinese imports and soy exports.
Now, everyone will be watching to see what Lugo and his partners do, so history will not repeat itself."