Home World News Efraín Alegre: “The project of Horacio Cartes or Santiago Peña, is a project that leads us towards a mafia model”

Efraín Alegre: “The project of Horacio Cartes or Santiago Peña, is a project that leads us towards a mafia model”

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Efraín Alegre: “The project of Horacio Cartes or Santiago Peña, is a project that leads us towards a mafia model”

Next April 30 Paraguay will choose Mario Abdo Benitez’s successorin general elections, where senators, deputies, governors and members of the so-called departmental councils are also elected.

This weekend, one of the two most important candidates, the opposition Efraín Alegre, campaigned in Argentina to seek the vote abroad which, he points out, has been hindered by the assembly of the 1992 constituent electoral system, which it promises to change.

In an interview with clarionAlegre said his country has chosen this April 30 between “the mafia or the homeland”. And he had harsh expressions for Abdo Benitez, former president Horacio Cartes and Santiago Peña, his own rival in these elections as a candidate for the ruling Colorado Party.

“The project of Horacio Cartes or Santiago Peña, is just a project that leads us towards a mafia model“said Alegre who toured the suburbs and the capital seeking the sympathy of a community that reaches 600,000 people in Argentina but in which fewer than 100,000 subscribers usually pay no more than 35,000.

President of the traditional Liberal Party, Alegre leads the Coalition of 40 left and center-left parties with which he intends to beat Peña. The polls vary in favor of Alegre, a few days ago and today for Peña, which has the big red apparatus.

Efraín Alegre, candidate for the presidency of Paraguay.  Photo Juan Manuel Foglia

Efraín Alegre, candidate for the presidency of Paraguay. Photo Juan Manuel Foglia

-You have made strong accusations against President Mario Abdo Benítez, Vice President Hugo Velazquez and former President Horacio Cartes. Ratify it?

-Well, I’m not saying it anymore and that’s it, let’s say. It is the international community that confirms that Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara is the head of transnational organized crime. He has investigations in Brazil, in Colombia, in the United States, which declares Cartes significantly corrupt, and (Hugo) Velásquez (vice president of Abdo Benitez), and accuses him of protecting organized crime during his government and of being linked to the terrorism. Paraguay is not a country of hitmen, drug traffickers or money launderers as it presents itself due to these situations. But unfortunately we have some people, some groups who are closely related to the power of the Republic and who have engaged in these crimes. In the elections of April 30 we consolidate the mafia in government or recover the homeland, our institutionality.

– Do you agree with these US sanctions against Cartes and Velazquez?

-It is that it is the denunciation that we made ten years ago. All that means dirty money endangering our institutions. Today Cartes controls a large part of the prosecutor’s office with bribes. He controls an important part of Congress with the dirty money of illegality, which we have denounced for some time and which today, with evidence and an investigation, the United States government reports. He has a trial in Brazil, he has a trial in Colombia. Moreover, this Horacio Cartes cannot leave Paraguay. If he gets out he goes to jail. In other words, he has a problem with the international community. So the project of Horacio Cartes or Santiago Peña is precisely a project that leads us towards a mafia model.

– You talk about Santiago Peña, your dolphin and rival in this election…

-It is a project that takes us to a Paraguay and that puts us in danger of an economy addicted to drugs. I mean, everything he did and everything was the worst we can imagine. But the worst part is that this is not Paraguay. Paraguay is a country of work, of decent people, of sacrificed people, of struggle and above all of people who don’t give up. This is the real Paraguay. That Paraguay that doesn’t give up and wants to recover the best we have in our country. No, that’s right, it’s the root of this whole situation.

– What do you think about what happened to the Venezuelan plane Emtrasur which was in Paraguay and Argentina and had a contract for cigarette smuggling with the Cartes company?

-Horacio Cartes has trials all over the world, except in Paraguay, because he controls the prosecutor’s office, he controls the judiciary. So what does he do? What do all these investigations about the international community, about international justice represent? In the first place, it shows us, shall we say, the business in which Cartes is involved and that political project, but at the same time it lays bare the weakness of our institutions, it lays bare precisely that our judicial system is leaking everywhere. Paraguay is not the place of his (Cartes’) residence but of his lair.

Efraín Alegre, lawyer and leader of the progressive opposition.  Photo EFE

Efraín Alegre, lawyer and leader of the progressive opposition. Photo EFE

-What do you think of the investigations linking Cartes with a route of links to terrorism in the Middle East?

– Look, the investigations point to this in what they say, because finally we also agree that all this business of illegality, money laundering, cigarette smuggling is related to the smuggling of cocaine, drugs and weapons. That’s what all the research says. It’s the same team. These are the same criminal groups that run all of these operations. And this is also related to terrorism. That’s why it now turns out we knew he was in the cigarette smuggling business. We knew about your responsibility for money laundering. We knew about his connection to cocaine and many other things in Paraguay. The novelty that emerges from this plan is precisely that of the link with terrorism.

-Why do you think people don’t vote for the Liberal Party?

-Today the project is actually a big consultation. Today we are in a Concertation which is the most important and the largest in our political history. We are more than 40 organizations. So I think today people clearly understand that first of all, that in the Concertación we are all in everyone’s house. Here is the homeland, it is truly the unity of decent people that make a change in Paraguay. And on the other hand, we have a model that has run out, for what this whole model of corruption, of clientelism represents, and now with Cartes it incorporates what will be the most lethal combination which is money, the product of illegality, dirty money from organized crime.

-Here, Peña’s statements that Argentines “don’t like to work” caused a stir.

-I think Santiago Peña’s expression is a bit the expression of inexperience and ignorance. I think he wanted to mix things up and when they pass you lyrics, a memorized speech usually happens to you. I think he meant something else and ended up talking like this. Look, we Paraguayans are immensely grateful to the government and the Argentine people. We must not forget that in the great crises of Paraguay, that of the exiles during the dictatorship, they went to Argentina and Argentina welcomed us with great generosity. Then we came for economic reasons, to work in Argentina. That’s why there are so many Paraguayans in Argentina and lately, in these years, we have come to prevent Argentines from getting treatment, because our health system is a disaster, it doesn’t exist. That is why the statements of Santiago Peña, which I do not agree with, are very sad. And I understand your nonsense. It’s confusing. But above all, what is important, as a country, we believe that Argentina is not just a partner, it is an ally and we have to respect that and we have the utmost respect for the Argentine people and government.

-But compared to Argentina, the Paraguayan economy has a better performance…

-Yes, we are much more orderly, despite the last few years, precisely with Santiago Peña in the Cartes government. This is a debt process that has gotten off the charts a bit it seems to us. In any case we are, shall we say, with good inflation rates, with a strong currency. Paraguay has it all and important development conditions. We lack strong institutions.

-How do you identify yourself today in a region that has a strong division between dictatorships and regimes such as those of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, and another region on the democratic left such as that of Boric, in Chile, or that of the Fernández family in Argentina? and Lula in Brazil?

We have a clear vision. First, of a democratic model. In my particular case, I come from a liberal party tradition. So I’m president of the liberals, and we come from a very strong struggle against the dictatorship. We have faced and resisted at the cost of persecution, everything you can imagine. So obviously. First of all, to distinguish yourself from all the description you just gave me, tell you first of all, we are well rooted and well placed in a democratic vision, we are very committed to any project related to authoritarianism and messianic governments, we do not share that vision.

– There is a series of victories for the left and a liberal contraction, in the region I think the opposition has won above all.

I think governments have lost, regardless of whether they are more or less progressive, right? But let’s agree that all the governments have also lost, as will happen in Paraguay…. We have great social commitments. We don’t just have this problem of poverty, of extreme poverty, but of vulnerable sectors. Paraguay has 50% poverty, extreme poverty and vulnerable sectors.

-I’m talking about Ortega, Maduro.

Please… First of all, this is why I told you that we are Democrats. We do not support any projects of this nature. Technically we believe in democracy. We have been persecuted by a dictatorship. (Stroessner) and is part of our genetics. Boric won democratically. We may or may not be in favor of his administration, but that is not the case in Nicaragua, Venezuela, where we are experiencing an absolutely different process. The case of Lula. Lula won a close, democratic election, but she won them fairly. No, we had a great experience with Lula, the best. The best agreement we reached for the interests of our country in Itaipu was signed by Lula with (Fernando) Lugo. Also… We’re reclaiming that deal now because we have the renegotiation.

Source: Clarin

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