The Colorado Party: a brief history

Peña is a member of the Colorado Party, as is current president Mario Abdo Benítez. In fact, 15 of the last 16 elected Paraguayan presidents have belonged to the conservative establishment party.


This, of course, includes Alfredo Stroessner, the right-wing dictator who ruled Paraguay for more than three decades in the 20th century. From 1954 to 1989, Stroessner’s Colorado Party led the country with repressive authoritarian rule, rigging elections, torturing political dissidents, and making Paraguay a haven for escaped Nazi war criminals, including Josef Mengele.

Stroessner’s regime was financially and politically backed by the US, in return for Paraguay’s support of a covert anti-communist operation in South America dubbed Operation Condor.


Since Stroessner was removed from power in the late ’80s, the Colorado Party has embraced a more moderate, neoliberal platform.

In 2008, the party’s rule was temporarily broken by Fernando Lugo—a former Catholic bishop—who was elected on a progressive platform, only to be impeached partway through his term, an act that some neighboring countries deemed a coup d’état.


His successor, Horacio Cartes, was elected in 2013 as a member of the Colorado Party. One of the wealthiest men in Paraguay, Cartes became chair of the party a few years after leaving office in 2018 and has been functionally bankrolling it for the past decade.

Earlier this year, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Cartes for “rampant corruption that undermines democratic institutions,” accusing him of cultivating ties with Hezbollah, which Washington has deemed a terrorist organization.


Related stories:

💰Paraguay’s presidential election is a referendum on China’s dollar diplomacy in Latin America


🇨🇳 Lula’s state visit to Beijing reveals Brazil’s foreign policy balancing act

🌎 The world needs lithium more than ever, and Latin America knows it

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.