Paraguay’s recent suspension from Mercosur is already having an effect on national politics in the South American country. Horacio Cartes is a potential candidate for the powerful Colorado Party that governed for over sixty years (and that played a central role in the impeachment of Fernando Lugo). In what may be some tactical political maneuvering, Cartes has spoken out in favor of returning to Mercosur:
“Paraguay in no way should abandon Mercosur…we have to hold on tight while they bash us a little bit and keep low and don’t play to being giants or annoyed”, said the presidential hopeful during a political rally with a youth movement.
“Mercosur is a common market like is Europe and with our neighbours we also have many coincidences”, said the politician. He added that in a globalized world “all countries are interconnected and it is out of the questions trying to isolate Paraguay from other countries”.
“The OAS (Organization of American States) has already began to understand our politics, that we’re a sovereign country, all was done according to the book and the Constitution[.]”
This could conceivably become an important issue in the scheduled presidential elections in Paraguay next year. Cartes is clearly speaking out in favor of businesses and industries that stand to be directly hurt by the suspension from Paraguay while also trying perhaps to pre-emptively appeal to Paraguayans whose every day lives are going to be directly impacted by the suspension from Mercosur. Additionally, in making these claims, he’s pretty clearly setting himself in opposition to elites who have said Paraguay should look elsewhere for trade relations. Of course, there’s no reason as yet to believe Cartes’s sentiments on the matter are anything but sincere. Still, it will be worth watching in the coming months and year to see how the impeachment and its fallout, including suspension from Mercosur, plays out in the political campaigns and in the media in Paraguay.