Briefly: Economist Santiago Peña won Paraguay’s presidential election on Sunday, easily trumping his centre-left competitor. In doing so, he:
- extended his conservative party’s enduring dominance of local politics
- hit pause on the recent ‘pink tide’ that’s washed over Latin America, and
- broke a streak of election losses for incumbent parties in Latin America.
But Peña’s now got quite the presidential in-tray waiting for him:
- Revive Paraguay’s farm-driven economy
- Reduce the country’s fiscal deficit, and
- Tackle corruption (the US just sanctioned his mentor, an ex-president)
Intrigue’s take: Did you notice that soft breeze on Sunday night? It was a collective sigh of relief coming in from Taiwan.
Unlike his main opponent, Peña had promised to maintain Paraguay’s relations with Taiwan, resisting pressure from an influential farming lobby that’s eager to recognise Beijing and tap China’s vast markets.
Also worth noting:
- Paraguay imports more from China than anywhere else.
- Only 13 countries now officially recognise Taiwan. Paraguay is the last one left in South America.