PARAGUAY CELEBRATES LUGO'S HISTORIC VICTORY
Written by Michael Fox
Monday, 21 April 2008
Asunción, Paraguay – Fireworks can still be heard in the distance where thousands of people are in the streets of downtown Asuncion sharing, embracing, reveling, hugging, smothering each other in kisses, and dancing until the early morning.
Fernando Lugo, the opposition candidate and progressive former bishop, has won with just over ten points above his closest challenger Colorado candidate, Blanca Ovelar.
Mark this one down in the books because this moment is already engrained in the hearts of many Paraguayans - both here and across the globe.
People here from age 10 to 100 will never forget it, and it will be talked about for as long as they shall live - regardless of what comes after. It is the beginning of something else, new horizons, a new chapter in this book that is Paraguay, and this is living history. Everyone here realizes it, and tonight, you couldn't help but get teary-eyed as the grandmothers, wrapped in the Paraguayan flag, danced with children in the streets, and cried at the top of their lungs that this is the moment they've been waiting for their whole lives.
Tonight, for millions of Paraguayans in this tiny country, and across the globe, nothing else matters. There is nothing else. "I am renewed!" cried a friend at the foot of the Pantheon in the midst of jubilant revelry after the results were announced. "For the first time in our lives, we have hope, we have possibilities... We are a new nation!"
It is not some far off dream. It is the realization of decades of struggle, beneath a repressive dictatorship, which sent thousands of Paraguayans in to exile. It is finally the fall of the dictatorship, a fall which was never fully realized in 1989, as power was passed from dictator Alfredo Stroessner in to the hands of another Colorado party member. It is the realization of truly legitimate elections, which portrayed the will of the people for the first time in as long as anyone here can remember.
Suddenly the massive crowd before us breaks into a spontaneous choir of the Paraguayan national anthem.
"I've never heard our anthem like this before," says my Paraguayan friend, turning to me with a large smile. "It never meant anything before."
It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. I am sure that those around me are feeling the same way.
Michael Fox is reporting on the Paraguayan elections for UpsideDownWorld.org. Stay tuned for more...