Paraguayan president admits fathering second child while a bishop

Fri, Jun 8, 2012, 01:00

FERNANDO LUGO, the Catholic bishop elected president of Paraguay, has acknowledged that he is the father of a 10-year-old boy, his second admission of paternity since taking office in 2008.

The boy, named Ángel, was conceived after his mother had sought the advice of Lugo, then her local bishop, about difficulties in her marriage.

In 2009 he admitted he was the father of a then two-year-old boy. A DNA test led to the dismissal of a third paternity suit and he is fighting demands to submit more DNA in a fourth case.

Following the latest admission, Paraguayan bishop Zacarías Ortiz Rolón said the country’s episcopal conference did not need to make a statement on the matter “because everyone knows he has many children”.

Under the internal rules of the Catholic Church, the bishop, as an ordained priest, took a vow of abstinence from sexual activity. He was a bishop from 1994 to 2005, when he resigned and ran for the Paraguayan presidency, to which he was elected in 2008.

This week’s acknowledgement of a second love child is the latest blow to his troubled time in office, during which he has battled cancer and struggled to implement social reforms.

Last year Paraguay’s congress quashed attempts to reform the constitution to allow him to stand for re-election in next year’s presidential contest.

Lugo first shot to public prominence when, still a bishop, he electrified a rally to oppose attempts by his predecessor to overturn the ban on presidential re-election.

While the president is unable to stand again, his fractured coalition has so far shown no sign of rallying around any single candidate, with its leaders warning they are preparing the way for a return to power of the opposition Colorado party.

The party, notorious for its corruption and role in the brutal dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, ruled for more than six decades before being defeated by Lugo in 2008.

The Colorados look set to select wealthy businessman Horacio Cartes their presidential candidate for next year. His family made its fortune under Stroessner by smuggling counterfeit cigarettes from its factory in Paraguay into Brazil and Argentina.

The United States government believes he is also involved in Paraguay’s drugs trade.

According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, he was the focus of a major operation by the Drug Enforcement Agency after investigations into his company’s smuggling of cigarettes to the US revealed his involvement in laundering money from drug sales.

Lugo is not the first Paraguayan president to gain notoriety for fathering children.

Stroessner is believed to have fathered at least 20 illegitimate children, while Bernardino Caballero, the founder of the Colorado party, formally recognised the 90 children he fathered outside of his two marriages.