Paraguayan Presidential Candidate Lino Oviedo Dies in Crash

Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Oviedo, a former army chief who led a failed coup in 1996, died Feb. 2 in a helicopter accident.

The wreckage was found in the Presidente Hayes department in central Paraguay, police officer Benito Almiron, a member of the Paraguayan police’s press office, said in a telephone interview from Asuncion. Police are working at the site of the accident, which also killed the pilot and Oviedo’s bodyguard.

Oviedo, 69, was running with the opposition Unace Party in April’s presidential vote. Congress ousted Fernando Lugo from the presidency in June, claiming he encouraged land seizures and fomented violence. Two months later, the electoral tribunal set a date for the election.

Vice President Federico Franco was named to temporarily run the landlocked nation until the vote. Lugo’s swift ousting prompted Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to suspend Paraguay, the world’s fourth-largest soybean producer, from the Mercosur trade group until the elections.

Oviedo was army chief in 1996 when he attempted to remove Juan Carlos Wasmosy from the presidency. After the coup failed, Oviedo ran for the presidency in the 1998 election. The Supreme Court blocked his attempt due to charges related to the coup.

Prison Sentence

He moved to Brazil, and returned to Paraguay in 2004 to serve a prison sentence. Running with the Unace Party, he came in third in the 2008 presidential elections, which Lugo won, ending 61 years of Colorado Party rule.

Oviedo was unlikely to win in the April 21 elections, Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, said in a telephone interview yesterday from Washington.

The two leading presidential candidates are Efrain Alegre of the Liberal Party and Horacio Cartes of the Colorado Party, according to a Feb. 1 study by pollster Ati Snead, reported by

Unace has yet to decide what steps the party will take in the presidential campaign, Senator Jorge Oviedo Matto said in a press conference yesterday, according to

Paraguay last month sold $500 million in global bonds, its debut issuance. The 10-year debt has a 4.625 percent coupon.

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