Horacio Cartes

Última Hora (Paraguay) Mario Abdo Benítez President of Paraguay

Horacio Cartes
Horacio Cartes con banda.jpg
50th President of Paraguay
In office
15 August 2013 – 15 August 2018
Vice PresidentJuan Afara (Aug 2013 – Apr 2018)
None (Apr–May 2018)
Alicia Pucheta (Apr–Aug 2018)
Preceded byFederico Franco
Succeeded byMario Abdo Benítez
Personal details
Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara

(1956-07-05) 5 July 1956 (age 64)
Asunción, Paraguay
Political partyColorado Party
Spouse(s)María Montaña (divorced)

Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara OSC (born 5 July 1956)[1] is a Paraguayan businessman and politician. He was the president of Paraguay from 2013 to 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

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]

Early political career

Until 2008 Cartes was uninvolved in politics and he was not registered as a voter.[14] He joined the far-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.[14]

In regards to allegation of his connections to the drug trade, as well as being targeted by the DEA,[15] 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."[15]

President of Paraguay

Ceremony of “Distinguished Guest” to Cartes in Mexico in August 2016.


Cartes was the Colorado candidate in the 2013 presidential election.[6][14] 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 Lugo and the negative reception the country was given in the aftermath by Latin American leaders, Cartes defended the legality of the impeachment and said that Paraguay should not withdraw from Mercosur, pointing to economic benefits of the common market and free trade.[16]

He was sworn in on August 15, 2013, using his inaugural address to declare a war on poverty in Paraguay.[15] His inauguration was attended by fellow conservative South American, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, as well as Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Peru's Ollanta Humala,[17] Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, Uruguay's José Mujica and Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou.[18]


Cartes announced his cabinet in August 2013 upon being sworn in.[18] Cartes' picks were largely technocratic.[19]

Portfolio Minister Term
Vice President Juan Afara [17]
Minister of Finance Germán Rojas August 2013 – January 2015 [19][20]
Santiago Peña January 2015 – June 2017
Lea Giménez [es] June 2017 – August 2018
Minister of Foreign Relations Eladio Loizaga [21]
Minister of National Defense Gen. Bernardino Soto Estigarribia August 2013 – November 2015 [20]
Diógenes Martínez November 2015 –
Minister of the Interior Francisco de Vargas August 2013 – November 2016 [19][20]
Tadeo Rojas November 2016 – April 2017 [22]
Lorenzo Darío Lezcano April 2017 – [23] mainly as a consequence of the violent repression of protesters by the police on 31 March 2017.[24]
Minister of Industry and Commerce Gustavo Leite [20]
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Jorge Gattini [20]
Minister of Public Works and Communications Ramón Jiménez Gaona [20] a former Olympic athlete[25]
Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Antonio Barrios Cartes' personal physician[20]
Minister of Education and Science Marta Lafuente August 2013 – May 2016 [20] Lafuente resigned in May 2016,[26]
Enrique Riera Escudero May 2016 – [27]
Minister of Justice Sheila Abed August 2013 – January 2016 [20]
Carla Bacigalupo January 2016 – July 2016 [28][29]
Ever Martínez July 2016 – [30][31]
Minister of Labor, Employment, and Social Security Guillermo Sosa [32]
Minister of Women Ana María Baiardi [20]
Sports Secretary Víctor Pecci [33][25]


In 2015, massive student protests occurred in Paraguay. The demand of students was a better quality of education, demanding an increase in the education budget to reach 7% of the national GDP as requested by UNESCO; at the time education spending represented 3.9% of GDP and was one of the lowest in the region.

Foreign relations

Cartes met with President of Argentina Mauricio Macri in Casa Rosada in September 2016.

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.[34] However, Cartes's successor Mario Abdo Benítez reversed the decision on September 5, 2018.[35]

Reelection attempt

The current constitution limits the president to a single five-year term. In later 2016 and early 2017, Cartes and his supporters in Congress attempted to pass a constitutional amendment to run for re-election, a move described by the opposition as "a coup". On 31 March 2017, a series of protests erupted after supporters of the amendment in the Senate voted for the amendment during a secret session in a closed office rather than on the Senate floor, during which demonstrators set fire to the Congress building. Several people were reported injured, including one protester who was killed after being hit by a shotgun blast by police, and one lower-house deputy who had to undergo surgery after being injured by rubber bullets.[36][37][38][39] On 17 April, Cartes announced that he would not run for a second presidential term even if the amendment passed. On 26 April, the Chamber of Deputies rejected the proposed constitutional amendment for presidential re-election.[40] In a June 2019 interview with Financial Times, when asked about the amendment, Cartes said, "If you ask me today if it was a mistake, yes it was because it created an unnecessary climate."[41][42][43]

Resignation attempt

In the 2018 Paraguayan general election, Cartes, while still President, ran for a full Senate seat, which was perceived as an attempt of extending his political influence past his presidency, and was elected.[44] 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. Legislators were opposed to Cartes resigning and taking up the seat, stating it was unconstitutional. The opposition, as well as dissidents within Cartes' own Colorado Party, successfully blocked Cartes's resignation,[44] boycotting the vote, hence preventing a quorum from being present for a vote on the resignation.[45] 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.[46]

Controversial statements

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".[47][48] 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".[49][50]


  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.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Jonathan Santana se nacionalizó paraguayo". adnmundo.com. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. 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. ^ a b c "Cartes' "good nose" for winning an election" (in Spanish). Brecha. 26 April 2013. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
  15. ^ a b c "Paraguay's new president Horacio Cartes was investigated by DEA for alleged money laundering". CBS News. 15 August 2013.
  16. ^ "Paraguayan presidential hopeful said the country should in no way abandon Mercosur — MercoPress". En.mercopress.com. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ a b "Paraguay: President-Elect Horacio Cartes Announces Cabinet". The Argentina Independent. 13 August 2013. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  19. ^ a b c "Technocrat cabinet in Paraguay" (in Spanish). América Economía. 14 August 2013.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Cartes' new ministers sworn in" (in Spanish). Informador.com.mx. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  21. ^ "Coming back in Paraguay" (in Spanish). Brecha. 16 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Tadeo Rojas juró como nuevo ministro del Interior". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 3 November 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "Paraguay's president fires interior minister, police chief amid election protests". Fox News. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Two former sportspeople in the Cabinet". Golazotropical.com.py. 15 August 2013.
  26. ^ "Mandatario aceptó renuncia presentada por Marta Lafuente". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 6 May 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  27. ^ "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.
  28. ^ "Carla Bacigalupo jurará hoy como nueva ministra". ABC Color (in Spanish). 7 January 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  29. ^ "Destituyen a Carla Bacigalupo". ABC Color (in Spanish). 26 July 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  30. ^ "Comunicado oficial". Presidencia de la República del Paraguay (in Spanish). 26 July 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  31. ^ "Éver Martínez es nuevo ministro de Justicia". ABC Color (in Spanish). 12 September 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  32. ^ «Cartes nombra a Guillermo Sosa como ministro de Trabajo» Archived 4 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Lanacion.com.py. 28 March 2014. (Retrieved 1 April 2017)
  33. ^ "Paraguay: Víctor Manuel Pecci is appointed Minister of Sports". Conmebol. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  34. ^ "Paraguay moves embassy to Jerusalem". Euronews. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  35. ^ "Outcry from Israel after Paraguay moves its Jerusalem embassy back to Tel Aviv". The Guardian. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  36. ^ Romero, Simon (31 March 2017). "Protests Erupt in Paraguay Over Efforts to Extend President's Term". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  37. ^ "'A coup has been carried out': Paraguay's congress set alight after vote to let president run again". The Guardian. London. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  38. ^ Desantis, Daniela (1 April 2017). "A protester was killed in Paraguay after a Senate vote for a constitutional amendment". The Independent. London. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  39. ^ "Paraguay congress set on fire amid presidential controversy". BBC News. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  40. ^ "Paraguay MPs reject amendment allowing president re-election". BBC News. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  41. ^ Stott, Michael (10 June 2019). "Horacio Cartes has eye on smoking out Paraguay's business potential". Financial Times. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  42. ^ "Cartes reconoce que enmienda fue un error" [Cartes recognizes that amendment was a mistake]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 11 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  43. ^ "Cartes reconoce que fue un error buscar su reelección vía enmienda" [Cartes recognizes that it was a mistake to seek his reelection via amendment]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 11 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  44. ^ a b Servin, Pedro. "Paraguay president withdraws resignation and Senate bid". Associated Press. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  45. ^ "Setback for outgoing Paraguay president's Senate aspirations". Associated Press. 30 May 2018.
  46. ^ "Presidente paraguayo Horacio Cartes retira su renuncia" (in Spanish). Chron. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  47. ^ "Cartes: "Balines de goma"" [Cartes: “Rubber bullets”]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  48. ^ "Cartes sobre manifestantes: "Balines de goma"" [Cartes on protesters: "Rubber bullets"]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  49. ^ "¿Horacio Cartes no asume su exabrupto?" [Horacio Cartes does not assume his outburst?]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  50. ^ "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.