News Release

Paraguay: * Liberation Theology * End of an Era in Latin America?


Fernando Lugo, a former bishop, was recently inaugurated as the president of Paraguay. The British Guardian today published a piece headlined: “Paraguay: Former slave gets cabinet position.”

Director of the Office of the Americas, Bonpane served as a Maryknoll priest in Guatemala and has written five books including Guerrillas of Peace: Liberation Theology and the Central American Revolution and Civilization is Possible, which was published this month.

He said today: “I met Fernando Lugo in Riobamba, Ecuador with a group of liberation theology people several years ago and was very impressed. Paraguay has been in such a bad state, with massive corruption and one-party rule for six decades. There has not been so much excitement in Paraguay since the Jesuits set up their ‘Reducciones,’ as depicted in the movie ‘The Mission.’

“Liberation theology is about the primacy of conscience and about changing this world for the better. As such, it stands in opposition to both fundamentalism, which focuses on doctrine, as well as imperial Christianity, which gave us crusades, inquisition, conquistadors and colonialism.”

Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. He said today: “Lugo’s election is another example of the growing autonomy that exists in Latin America and the apparent inability of the U.S. to re-create a dependent Latin America — that era seems to have ended. …”

Regarding the oil deal between Paraguay and Venezuela, Birns said: “Of course, [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez will come through on his pledge of cheap oil for Paraguay — after all we’re only talking about 23,500 barrels a day: chicken feed. The important payoff for Chávez is that the transaction projects a momentum that is entirely in his favor — another South American nation joins left-leaning pink tide countries.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167