The ruling party concedes power after six decades. Left-leaning Fernando Lugo ran on a platform of "change."
Lugo's victory was historic in Paraguay, where the Colorado Party has held power even longer than the communist regimes of China, North Korea and Cuba. Spurring his triumph was widespread discontent with the ruling party's long record of corruption, cronyism and economic stagnation.
The election of Lugo was the latest triumph by a left-leaning leader in Latin America, where a so-called pink tide of democratically elected presidents has altered the region's political map in recent years.
The days of relying on ruling-party contacts for jobs and other needs will end, Lugo declared. Supporters said his time as a priest and bishop cemented his honest image in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation.
Despite his rhetoric, he has refused to be labeled a leftist, saying he is a centrist responding to the needs of the downtrodden and the teachings of Liberation Theology, a Catholic doctrine favoring the poor and subjugated.
The Vatican has assailed Liberation Theology for Marxist tendencies.
The Colorado Party's time in power includes the 35-year dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, the anti-communist strongman who was ousted in 1989. But the party survived Stroessner and went on to dominate almost two decades of shaky democracy - until Sunday's stunning defeat.
Congrats to the Paraguayans on gettin' the right wingers out of office. We hope to do the same here for almost exactly the same reasons. We've had enough 'shaky democracy' our own damn selves.
Note to the Bushes: Ha! Thought you were gonna hide yer Devil Spawn there after 1.20.09, didja? A nice landlocked right-wing dictatorship with no extradition treaty with the U.S. where he could live out his miserable life in comfort instead of in Leavenworth. Well, all of S.A. is goin' "red", seems like, but it means something a little different down there. Enjoy.
Note to Paraguay: Work on that extradition thing. We'll want him back. We can get him like Israel got Eichmann, of course, but that's messy and iffy. We're not as good at that sort of thing as Israel is.