Horacio Cartes

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Horacio Cartes
Horacio Cartes con banda.jpg
50th President of Paraguay
In office
15 August 2013 – 15 August 2018
Vice President Juan Afara (Aug 2013–Apr 2018)
None (Apr–May 2018)
Alicia Pucheta (Apr–Aug 2018)
Preceded by Federico Franco
Succeeded by Mario Abdo Benítez
Personal details
Born Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara
(1956-07-05) 5 July 1956 (age 62)
Asunción, Paraguay
Political party Colorado Party
Spouse(s) María Montaña (divorced)
Children 3
Residence Mburuvicha Róga

Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara OSC (born 5 July 1956[1]) is a Paraguayan businessman, and he was the former President of Paraguay, as of the Paraguayan general election, 2018. He is a member of the Colorado Party.[2]

Cartes owns about two dozen businesses in his Grupo Cartes conglomerate including tobacco, soft drinks, meat production,[3] and banking. He was president of Club Libertad football club from 2001 until 2012,[4] and had been the president of the national team department of the Paraguayan Football Association during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification.[3][5]

Business career[edit]

Cartes' father was the owner of a Cessna aircraft franchise holding company and the young Horacio studied aviation mechanics in the United States. At the age of 19, he started a currency exchange business which grew into the Banco Amambay. Over the following years, Cartes bought or helped establish 25 companies including Tabesa, the country's biggest cigarette manufacturer, and a major fruit juice bottling company.[6]

In 1986, Cartes spent 60 days in jail during a currency fraud investigation. He was accused of making millions of dollars on a central bank loan obtained at a preferential exchange rate and then moving it through his money exchange business before buying farm equipment in the U.S. The case was eventually dropped.[7]

Cartes was imprisoned on charges of currency fraud for seven months in 1989. He was eventually cleared by a court.[8]

In 2000, the anti-drug police seized a plane carrying cocaine and marijuana on his ranch. He claimed that the plane had made an emergency landing, that he had no involvement with the drug trade and that he opposed the legalization of narcotics.[8]

Cartes' name appears in the Offshore leaks files in connection with a Cook Islands financial entity linked to Cartes' Paraguayan bank Banco Amambay.[9][10][11] A classified WikiLeaks cable from 2010 mentioned Cartes as the focus of a money laundering investigation by the DEA.[12][13][14]

Early political career[edit]

Until 2008 Cartes was uninvolved in politics and he was not registered as a voter.[15] He joined the center-right Colorado Party in 2009 and said he wanted to counter the swing to the left in Latin American politics. He became known as an efficient politician uncompromised by his party's past support of the military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner who ruled until 1989.[15]

In regards to allegation of his connections to the drug trade, as well as being targeted by the DEA,[16] he said during his presidential campaign: "I wouldn't want to be president if I had ties to drug traffickers. Go to the courts and check. There's nothing, not a single charge against me."[16]

President of Paraguay[edit]


Cartes was the Colorado candidate in the 2013 presidential election.[6][15] The BBC suggested that his convincing points during his campaign were the promises to raise private capital to upgrade the country's infrastructure, to modernise its public enterprises, to attract international investments, and to create jobs. On 21 April 2013, he was elected President of Paraguay with 45.80% of the vote.[6] When he took office on 15 August, it marked only the second time in the country's 202 years of independence that a ruling party peacefully surrendered power to the opposition.

In regards to the impeachment of Fernando Lugo and the hostile reception the country was given in the aftermath by Latin American leaders, Cartes said that the country should not withdraw from Mercosur due to its economic benefits of free trade: "Paraguay in no way should abandon Mercosur...we have to hold on tight while they bash us a little bit and keep low and don’t play to being giants or annoyed. Mercosur is a common market like is Europe and with our neighbours we also have many coincidences. [In a globalised world] all countries are interconnected and it is out of the questions trying to isolate Paraguay from other countries. The OAS has already began to understand our politics, that we’re a sovereign country, all was done according to the book and the Constitution."[17] Upon being sworn in he said: "I'm not in politics to make a career of it or become wealthier. I'm in politics to serve my people, make the future better for new generations and build up our identity as a free, independent and sovereign people."[16] His inauguration was attended by fellow conservative South American, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera who said: "I want to say to President Horacio Cartes that we are very expectant about his future achievements. The slogan of his campaign was 'new directions,' and every country needs new directions and to be confronted with new challenges...the challenge of integration in our Latin America is still a pending challenge and the experience of the Pacific Alliance was a great experience which has been very fruitful." Other leaders at his inauguration were Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Peru's Ollanta Humala,[18] Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, Uruguay's José Mujica and Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou.[19]


Cartes said of his cabinet that the future ministers have the "enormous responsibility" of honouring those who voted for them and gave them a governing mandate. "It will be the beginning of a story that us Paraguayans want, a government for all, an inclusive government, our great obligation is with the citizens...we need all the Paraguayans to help us, to orientate us."[19] The majority of them have an overwhelmingly technical profile:[20]

Portfolio Minister Term
Vice President Juan Afara [18]
Minister of Finance Germán Rojas August 2013 - January 2015 [20][21]
Santiago Peña January 2015 - June 2017
Lea Giménez June 2017 -
Minister of Foreign Relations Eladio Loizaga [22]
Minister of National Defense Gen. Bernardino Soto Estigarribia August 2013 - November 2015 [21]
Diógenes Martínez November 2015 -
Minister of the Interior Francisco de Vargas August 2013 - November 2016 [20][21]
Tadeo Rojas November 2016 - April 2017 [23]
Lorenzo Darío Lezcano April 2017 - [24] mainly as a consequence of the violent repression of protesters by the police on 31 March 2017.[25]
Minister of Industry and Commerce Gustavo Leite [21]
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Jorge Gattini [21]
Minister of Public Works and Communications Ramón Jiménez Gaona [21] a former Olympic athlete[26]
Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Antonio Barrios Cartes' personal physician[21]
Minister of Education and Science Marta Lafuente August 2013 - May 2016 [21] Lafuente resigned in May 2016,[27]
Enrique Riera Escudero May 2016 - [28]
Minister of Justice Carla Bacigalupo August 2013 - July 2016 [21]
Ever Martínez July 2017 - [29][30]
Minister of Labor, Employment, and Social Security Guillermo Sosa [31]
Minister of Women Ana María Baiardi [21]
Sports Secretary Víctor Pecci [32][26]

Foreign relations[edit]

On May 21, 2018, the Paraguayan embassy moved to Jerusalem, becoming the third country in the world to recognize the city as the diplomatic capital of Israel.[33] However, Cartes's successor Mario Abdo Benítez reversed the decision on September 5, 2018.[34]

Resignation attempt[edit]

On 22 April 2018, Cartes was elected to a full Senate seat, which he ran for in hopes of extending his political influence past his presidency.[35] New Senators would be sworn in on 30 June 2018, six weeks before Cartes's presidential term was scheduled to end, thus the need for Cartes to leave office before the expiration of his term, as the constitution states officials can not hold two offices concurrently. Consequently, on 28 May 2018, Cartes offered his resignation as President, which would have to be agreed to by Congress.[36] Legislators were opposed to Cartes resigning and taking up the seat, stating it was unconsitutional. Opposition leaders were successful in blocking Cartes's resignation by boycotting the vote and not allowing a quorum to be present to vote on the resignation.[37] Cartes withdrew his bid to resign and be sworn in as a senator on 26 June 2018 after not receiving enough political support to carry through his plans.[38]

Controversial statements[edit]

Leading to the 2013 presidential election, Cartes made controversial statements on the LGBT community, comparing it to "monkeys". He also said he would "shoot myself in the bollocks" if he were to discover a son who wanted to marry another man.[3]

On 10 August 2018, when asked by a journalist about his response to a series of citizen protests on Yacyretá Dam deals and congressmen with pending criminal cases, Cartes responded "Rubber bullets".[39][40] Cartes later apologized for the remark, stating, "I want to express my apologies to the young people for the published expressions. I always encouraged them to express themselves and my goal is the peace of all Paraguayans".[41][42]


  1. ^ (in Portuguese) 18 April 2013, terra.com.br, Horacio Cartes, o multimilionário candidato à presidência do Paraguai
  2. ^ Millionaire businessman wins Paraguay presidency, France 24, 22 April 2013, archived from the original on 6 May 2013
  3. ^ a b c "Horacio Cartes: Millionaire. Criminal. Business titan. Homophobe. The next president of Paraguay?". The Independent. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Jonathan Santana se nacionalizó paraguayo". adnmundo.com. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Profile: Horacio Cartes, BBC News, 22 April 2013
  7. ^ Servin, Pedro; Michael Warren (15 August 2013). "Paraguay's new president woos foreign investment". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  8. ^ a b Romero, Simon (21 April 2013), "Conservative Tobacco Magnate Wins Presidential Race in Paraguay", The New York Times
  10. ^ (in Spanish) Diario ABC Color, 16 April 2013, Banco para “alternativas no disponibles en Paraguay”
  11. ^ ICIJ, 15 April 2013, Bank Owned by Paraguay’s Leading Presidential Candidate Linked to Tax Haven
  12. ^ Buenos Aires Herald, 22 April 2013, Horacio Cartes wins comfortably in Paraguay
  13. ^ (in Spanish) 14 November 2011, Última Hora, WikiLeaks: Cartes desmiente lavado de dinero en el Banco Amambay
  14. ^ "10BUENOSAIRES5, ZA-09-0007/YAZ1K MARTINETTI, JULIO et al/ OPERATION HEART OF". WikiLeaks. 5 January 2010.
  15. ^ a b c "Cartes' "good nose" for winning an election" (in Spanish). Brecha. 26 April 2013. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
  16. ^ a b c "International News | World News - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  17. ^ "Paraguayan presidential hopeful said the country should in no way abandon Mercosur — MercoPress". En.mercopress.com. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Piñera visits Paraguay: Inauguration of President". Ilovechile.cl. 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Paraguay: President-Elect Horacio Cartes Announces Cabinet - The Argentina Independent | The Argentina Independent". Argentinaindependent.com. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  20. ^ a b c "Technocrat cabinet in Paraguay" (in Spanish). América Economía. 14 August 2013.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cartes' new ministers sworn in" (in Spanish). Informador.com.mx. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Coming back in Paraguay" (in Spanish). Brecha. 16 August 2013.
  23. ^ "Tadeo Rojas juró como nuevo ministro del Interior". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 3 November 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Comunicado Oficial: Presidente Cartes dispuso cambio del ministro del Interior y del comandante de la Policía Nacional". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 1 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Paraguay's president fires interior minister, police chief amid election protests". Fox News. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  26. ^ a b "Two former sportspeople in the Cabinet". Golazotropical.com.py. 15 August 2013.
  27. ^ "Mandatario aceptó renuncia presentada por Marta Lafuente". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 6 May 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Enrique Riera es el nuevo ministro de Educación". Diario La Nación (Paraguay) (in Spanish). 9 May 2016. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  29. ^ "Comunicado oficial". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 26 July 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  30. ^ "Éver Martínez es nuevo ministro de Justicia". Diario ABC Color (Paraguay) (in Spanish). 12 September 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  31. ^ «Cartes nombra a Guillermo Sosa como ministro de Trabajo». Lanacion.com.py. 28 March 2014. (Retrieved 1 April 2017)
  32. ^ "Paraguay: Víctor Manuel Pecci is appointed Minister of Sports". Conmebol. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  33. ^ "Paraguay moves embassy to Jerusalem". Euronews. 2018-05-21. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  34. ^ "Outcry from Israel after Paraguay moves its Jerusalem embassy back to Tel Aviv". The Guardian. 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  35. ^ Servin, Pedro. "Paraguay president withdraws resignation and Senate bid". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  36. ^ "(VIDEO) Renunció presidente de Paraguay Horacio Cartes" (in Spanish). Aporrea. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  37. ^ "Paraguay: Opposition to Boycott Vote on Cartes's Resignation". Telesur. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  38. ^ "Presidente paraguayo Horacio Cartes retira su renuncia" (in Spanish). Chron. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  39. ^ "Cartes: "Balines de goma"" [Cartes: “Rubber bullets”]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  40. ^ "Cartes sobre manifestantes: "Balines de goma"" [Cartes on protesters: "Rubber bullets"]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  41. ^ "¿Horacio Cartes no asume su exabrupto?" [Horacio Cartes does not assume his outburst?]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Cartes se disculpa por sugerir "balines de goma" contra secundarios" [Cartes apologizes for suggesting "rubber bullets" against high school students]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Federico Franco
President of Paraguay
Succeeded by
Mario Abdo Benítez