Paraguay’s Lugo proves no messiah

Whiter-than-white politicians surely can’t sleep well. Only saints have no skeletons in their cupboard. For the rest of us mortals, rattle hard enough and something, sometime, will eventually appear.   

In the case of Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay, it took eight months for his secret to come to light. When it did, it did so in the form of a two-year old boy.

Love-children are not new to South American politics. The Peruvians enjoy particular kudos in the field. Four months passed after the election of Alan Garcia, the current president of the Andean state, before the result of an extramarital affair was revealed.

His predecessor, Alejandro Toledo, took ten years to admit to being the father of a 14 year-old girl. The allegations reached national proportions when a Supreme Court judge admitted visiting the President at home and trying to persuade him to publicly recognise his daughter.

Lugo admitted his paternity to reporters yesterday. The confession proves he is no saint. But he was a Catholic, supposedly celibate bishop at the time of the child’s conception.

The news is depressing. Not so much because of his moral hyprocracy. That much can be expected. But because it gives the political opposition in long-suffering Paraguay the rope with which to hang him.

"He presented himself almost as a god sent from heaven, but it turns out he was just like any other man and that represents a con", said Deputy Oscar Tuma, summing up the tone adopted by Lugo’s critics.

The corrupt and bloated Colorado party ruled Paraguay for more than six decades. Lugo’s election last year was greeted across the world as a sign of hope for the beleaguered state.

Now his mandate – based largely on his moral credentials – is in doubt. Still, he has at least confessed. By the standards of the Catholic church, that’s a first step to redemption. Paraguayans – a conservative bunch by and large – might not prove quite so forgiving.

Best headline of the day? Inca Kola News’s ‘Life of Brian’ take-off: “He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’.