Lugo Méndez, Fernando Armindo

Lugo Méndez, Fernando Armindo 1949–, Paraguayan priest and political leader. Inspired by the principles of social justice inherent in liberation theology, which swept Latin America in the 1960s, he studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood and was ordained (1977). A charismatic priest and spellbinding orator, he became famous for his advocacy of the nation's poor. Lugo rose in the church hierarchy and in 1994 he was appointed bishop of San Pedro, serving until 2004. Deciding to challenge the 61-year rule of the right-wing Colorado party despite having no previous political experience, he resigned as a bishop in 2006 and ran for president. A moderate leftist, Lugo vowed to improve Paraguay's struggling economy, promote agrarian reform, and fight the nation's endemic poverty and corruption. Backed by the seven-party, center-left Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC), he won the presidency in Apr., 2008, but the legislature remained in the control of conservative parties. The Roman Catholic church, which had initially refused to recognize Lugo's 2006 resignation as a bishop, gave him permission to resign from the priesthood after his election. Revelations in 2009 and subsequent years that while he was a bishop he had fathered two children damaged his reputation, and he alienated the Liberal party, a main, but conservative, ally. After a land eviction in 2012 resulted in 17 deaths, Lugo lost further support and was quickly impeached and removed from office by opponents and former allies alike. In 2013 he was elected to Paraguay's senate as a candidate of the Guasú Front, the successor to the APC.

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