Asuncion (Agenzia Fides) - In view of the general elections on April 30, the Episcopal Conference of Paraguay published a message on April 18 in which it appeals "to the conscience of each voter, especially Christians", and this is why it indicates 10 topics for reflection.
First, they call on everyone "to be responsible for their vote, which represents their commitment to the democratic system", then the appeal to fulfill thier duty and right to vote "freely and consciously". The message therefore recommends not buying votes, as "it is an illegal, criminal practice and offends the dignity of the human person", "a clean government begins with clean elections". On the same subject, the Bishops ask Paraguayans "not to associate themselves with any form of electoral fraud", since a corrupt democracy feeds on traps, machinations, manipulations, forgery and the unscrupulous greed for power.
The message therefore invites people to choose those who are known and respected by everyone for their own path and righteousness in life (personal, family, professional and political), and who have shown commitment to the good of the community. "May your vote truly express the values and virtues that we need, as a society, to achieve the development of the country at the service of integral human promotion."
The bishops ask that electoral norms and peace be respected, contributing to the transparency, integrity, security and orderly development of the elections. "This will contribute to the legitimacy of the results and will lay the foundations for dialogue and social peace". They also recall that "your vote, along with that of the other voters, is the expression of the will of an entire people; the results of the vote must commit those who win to fulfill the promises they made”.
In the final part, the message invites Paraguayans to be "integral citizens and not merely electoral", since elections do not automatically bring solutions to problems, so it is very important that the active participation of citizens continue for the good functioning of democratic institutions. "As Christians we are invited to be citizens of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, truth, peace and love." This should lead everyone to discern "to choose and choose those who will direct the destinies of Paraguay in the coming years." Finally, Paraguayans are urged to pray and collaborate so that election day takes place in "a climate of respect, fraternity and civic celebration."
According to information gathered by Fides, the main candidates for the presidency in the primary elections on December 18 (see Fides, 14/12/2022) are Efraín Alegre, of the Coalition for a New Paraguay, and Santiago Peña, of the National Republican Association (known as the Colorado Party), to which the current President Mario Abdo Benitez belongs. The President elected on April 30 will take office on August 15. In addition to the President, the Paraguayans will also have to elect on April 30, 45 titular senators and 30 substitutes, 80 titular deputies and 80 substitutes, 17 governors, 257 titular members and as many substitutes for departmental councils.
For some time the Bishops of Paraguay have been launching appeals to citizens in view of this electoral appointment, pointing out the serious problems that afflict the country.
In the final message of the last plenary assembly of the Episcopal Conference (see Fides, 5/11/2022) the Bishops called attention to "the importance and urgency of an accessible and quality education", considering "undeniable the critical state of national education system". Another urgent issue that must be addressed is the accumulation of large tracts of land in the hands of a few and the continued evictions of indigenous communities, even with violence. The Bishops therefore appealed to "a culture of the common good, to a free and responsible exercise of the right and duty to vote, to a healthy and constructive debate on the future of our country". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 19/4/2023)