Paraguay: Lugo’s Road to Horqueta

Today the road to Horqueta was clogged with flatbeds driving supporters to see Fernando Lugo speak. An announcement went out on the radio that the former Bishop turned presidential candidate would be speaking in the town square. More than 600 people came from as far as 50 miles away. They dressed in wool hats and scarves and parkas because it was cold and undoubtedly colder in the back of a flatbed traveling 40 mph.

When they got to the square there was no food or alcohol to greet them like there was at Ovelar's rally's.

But they didn't care, they came to see Lugo and they only whispered to each other as he passed to the stage. At first the people sat patiently through the pre-speeches but as they dragged on for more than two hours the people got bored and began drifting toward the food vendors. When finally Lugo came to the microphone they all perked up and crowded the stage.

Lugo is not a dynamic speaker. By American standards he is quite dull as if he were performing mass. But the Paraguayans look on without blinking because they felt he was talking to each of them individually. Speaking in Guarnai, the language of the native peasants,

Lugo told the crowd that the corruption of the Colorado party has robbed them of democracy. He pleaded with the crowd:

"On the day of the election people will come to you and try to buy your vote. They will give you 50,000 Gs but you will be selling your pride for the next five years."

50,0000 Gs is equivalent to $10.

Before the speech I spoke with Jorge Coronel an organizer for Lugo. He said Lugo's rallyies are different from the typical political rally in that people aren't forced to come. "We don't pay them or bribe them, they come because they want to."

Coronel went on to say that Lugo became a hero to the poor farmer when the soybeans first came to San Pedro and displaced many. " Lugo will help make the land distribution in Paraguay more fair."