Mario Abdo Benítez

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Mario Abdo Benítez
Mario Abdo Benítez 2023 (cropped).jpg
Abdo Benítez in 2023
51st President of Paraguay
Assumed office
15 August 2018
Vice PresidentHugo Velázquez
Preceded byHoracio Cartes
President of the Senate
In office
1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016
Preceded byBlas Llano
Succeeded byRoberto Acevedo Penedo
Senator of Paraguay
In office
1 July 2013 – 1 March 2018[1]
Personal details
Born (1971-11-10) 10 November 1971 (age 51)
Asunción, Paraguay
Political partyColorado Party
Fátima Díaz

(m. 2007)
ResidenceMburuvicha Róga
Alma materTeikyo Post University

Mario Abdo Benítez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈma.ɾjo ˈaβ.ðo βeˈni.tes]; born 10 November 1971)[1][2] is a Paraguayan politician who has served as the president of Paraguay since 2018.[3] He was previously a senator and President of the Senate.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Abdo Benítez was born in Asunción on 10 November 1971 and is the son of Ruth Benítez Perrier and Mario Abdo Benítez Sr.[5][6] His father's ancestry is Lebanese.[7][8]

At 16 years old, Abdo Benítez moved to the United States.[9] He then completed his university studies at Teikyo Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, obtaining a degree in marketing.[2] Upon completion of his secondary schooling in 1989 he joined the Paraguayan Armed Forces, obtaining the rank of Second Lieutenant of Reserve Aviation and in turn was appointed by the Air Force Command as a paratrooper.[2]

Early political career[edit]

His first steps in politics were in 2005 as a member of the Republican National Reconstruction movement.[2] He was later a member of the Peace and Progress movement and won the Vice Presidency of the Colorado Party in 2005.[2] In June 2015, he was elected president of the Senate of Paraguay.[4][2][10]

Abdo Benítez has faced criticism for his relationship with the military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, as his father was Stroessner's private secretary.[3][11][12] When Stroessner died in 2006, Abdo Benítez was one of the pallbearers at his funeral in Brasília, and Abdo Benítez later proposed that the Governing Board of the Colorado Party pay tribute to Stroessner.[11] The fortune Abdo Benítez owns was inherited from his father, who after the fall of the dictatorship was prosecuted for illicit enrichment, but the case was eventually dismissed.[11] Abdo Benítez has stated that while he believes that Stroessner "did a lot for the country", he also clarified that he does not condone the violations of human rights, torture and persecution committed during the regime.[11][13][14]


Presidential styles of
Mario Abdo Benítez
Flag of the President of Paraguay.svg
Reference styleExcelentísimo Señor Presidente de la República
"Most Excellent Mr. President of the Republic"
Spoken styleSu Excelencia
"Your Excellency"
Alternative styleSeñor Presidente
"Mr. President"


In December 2017, Abdo Benítez won the Colorado Party presidential primaries by defeating former Minister of Finance Santiago Peña with 564,811 votes (50.93%) to 480,114 (43.29%).[15] In April 2018, Abdo Benítez won the 2018 elections by defeating Efraín Alegre, with 46.46% of the votes to Alegre's 42.73%.[16][3] At 46 years of age Benítez became, by a mere month's margin to Nicanor Duarte, the youngest President of Paraguay since Alfredo Stroessner, at 41, assumed power in 1954.[17]

Abdo Benítez was inaugurated as president on August 15, 2018. His predecessor Horacio Cartes, with whom he was in conflict, was not present at the ceremony.[18]

Domestic policy[edit]

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Paraguayan President Abdo Benítez in December 2019.

He supported the reform of the judicial system, considered corrupt. Like his opponent at the elections Alegre, he opposes the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage, though he stated to be "open" to a "debate" on abortion.[19]

In mid-2019, he faced the possibility of an impeachment procedure for having signed an agreement with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on the Itaipu Dam, which was considered to be clearly unfavourable for Paraguay. He finally had this agreement cancelled, defusing the impeachment process.[20]

On economic issues, Abdo Benitez's government continues the policy pursued for a century in favor of large landowners.[21] Abdo Benitez's government designed a tax reform that was approved by Congress in September 2019.[22] In 2019, the Paraguayan economy went into recession.[23]

One year after taking office, the government has experienced a high rate of disapproval of its management (69.3% in August 2019).[24] As a result, the phrase "Desastre ko Marito" (a mixture of Guarani and Spanish roughly meaning "Marito is a disaster") became widespread in use,[25] spawning merchandising.[26] Abdo Benítez has jokingly referenced the phrase on occasion.[27]

In June 2022, 81% of those polled rated President Mario Abdo Benitez negatively. On the other hand, some 70% of those polled believe that Paraguay "needs profound changes", 19% think that Paraguay needs stability and 9% that the country needs moderate changes.[28]

Foreign policy[edit]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with then-President-elect of Paraguay Abdo Benítez in June 2018.

In September 2018, he annulled the decision of his predecessor to transfer the Paraguayan embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, stating that he had not been consulted, and declared that he had taken this decision believing it to "contribute to the intensification of regional and international diplomatic efforts in the goal of achieving an enlarged, just and lasting peace in the Middle East".[29] This decision led to tensions with the Israeli government, which responded by closing its embassy in Paraguay.[30]

In January 2019, he broke off diplomatic relations with Venezuela and recognized Venezuelan opposition leader and National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as President of the country. He received Guaidó at the presidential palace in Asunción.[31]

Personal life[edit]

His first marriage was to Fátima María Díaz, with whom he had two sons.[11] Following their divorce, he married Silvana López Moreira,[11] with whom he has one son.[32]


Benítez was awarded the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon by President of the Republic of China Tsai Ing-wen on 8 October 2018.[33] During the ceremony, Tsai mentioned the role that Benítez's father held in the Stroessner government, which established bilateral relations.[34][35] Also he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic with Grand Cordon by President of the Republic of Italy on 19 January 2023.[36]


  1. ^ a b "Marito renuncia al Senado para dedicarse a la campaña electoral" [Marito resigns to the Senate to dedicate himself to the electoral campaign]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 1 March 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Quién es quién en la puja de ANR por la chapa: las carreras de Peña y Marito" [Who is who in the ANR bid for the ticket: the careers of Peña and Marito]. Hoy (in Spanish). 17 December 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Mario Abdo Benítez wins Paraguay's presidential election". BBC News. 23 April 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Mario Abdo Benítez es electo presidente del Congreso" [Mario Abdo Benítez is elected president of Congress]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 16 June 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ Lloret, Rodrigo (22 April 2018). "El "hijo" del dictador Stroessner" [The "son" of the dictator Stroessner]. Perfil (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  6. ^ ""Yo vengo para ser el cerrucho mas grande de Paraguay..."" [I come to change the reality of Paraguay ...]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 8 April 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Mario Abdo Benitez, d'origine libanaise, élu président du Paraguay" [Mario Abdo Benitez, of Lebanese origin, elected President of Paraguay]. L'orient le (in French). Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  8. ^ من بينهم رئيس باراغواي الجديد : من هم عرب أمريكا اللاتينية؟ [Among them the new President of Paraguay: Who are the Arabs of Latin America?]. BBC News عربي (in Arabic). BBC News: Arabic. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Paraguay ex-dictator aide's son in power". BBC News. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Expresidentes del Senado". 28 January 2019. Archived from the original on 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Mario Abdo Benítez, un "hijo del stronismo" en carrera" [Mario Abdo Benítez, a "son of stronismo" in career]. ABC Color (in Spanish). 15 May 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Abdo Benítez resalta obras del stronismo y el progreso del país gracias a la ANR" [Abdo Benítez highlights works of the stronismo and the progress of the country thanks to the ANR]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 24 January 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Mario Abdo y su vínculo con Stroessner: "Uno no elige dónde nacer"" [Mario Abdo and his link with Stroessner: "One does not choose where to be born"]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 12 October 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  14. ^ Blair, Laurence (24 April 2018). "Paraguay election: Mario Abdo Benítez victory recalls brutal dictatorship". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  15. ^ "En un duro revés para Horacio Cartes, un senador disidente ganó las primarias presidenciales en Paraguay" [In a hard setback for Horacio Cartes, a dissident senator won the presidential primaries in Paraguay]. Infobae (in Spanish). 18 December 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  16. ^ Carneri, Santi; Londoño, Ernesto (22 April 2018). "His Father Aided a Dictator. Paraguay Elected Him President". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Paraguay elige presidente a un 'joven' conservador ligado familiarmente a la dictadura" [Paraguay elects a 'young' conservative linked to the dictatorship president]. HuffPost (in Spanish). 23 April 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Benitez, un enfant de la dictature, au pouvoir au Paraguay" [Benitez, a child of the dictatorship, in power in Paraguay]. Courrier International (in French). 15 August 2018. Archived from the original on 16 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Paraguay: le conservateur Abdo Benitez favori face à Alegre" [Paraguay: conservative Abdo Benitez favorite against Alegre]. Boursorama (in French). 22 April 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  20. ^ Carneri, Santi (1 August 2019). "Paraguay anula el acuerdo energético con Brasil que amenazaba con hacer caer el Gobierno" [Paraguay cancels the energy agreement with Brazil that threatened to bring down the government]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  21. ^ "L'or vert et l'or bleu empoisonnent le Paraguay, troisième exportateur de soja au monde" [Green and blue gold poisons Paraguay, the world's third-largest soybean exporter]. Espaces Latinos (in French). 15 December 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Desde el 1 de enero regirán subas de tasas y los nuevos impuestos" [Rate increases and new taxes will apply from 1 January]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 26 September 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Paraguay cayó en una recesión económica técnica, confirma BCP" [Paraguay fell into a technical economic recession, BCP confirms]. La Nación (in Spanish). 1 October 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Abdo Benítez cumple un año de gobierno con altos índices de desaprobación" [Abdo Benítez celebrates a year of government with high disapproval rates]. Télam (in Spanish). 14 August 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Desastre ko Marito, la popular frase humorística que al parecer refleja la realidad" [Desastre ko Marito, the popular humorous phrase that apparently reflects reality]. (in Spanish). 31 July 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  26. ^ "Una frase que "trasciende fronteras": el marketing detrás del "Desastre ko Marito"" [A phrase that "transcends borders": the marketing behind "Desastre ko Marito"]. Hoy (in Spanish). 13 September 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  27. ^ ""Desastre ko Marito", dijo ¡el propio Marito!" ["Desastre ko Marito", said Marito himself!]. Crónica (in Spanish). 26 October 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  28. ^ "81% de encuestados ven como negativa la imagen de Abdo Benítez".
  29. ^ "Le Paraguay transfère à nouveau son ambassade en Israël à Tel Aviv" [Paraguay transfers its embassy in Israel to Tel Aviv again]. Europe 1 (in French). Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Paraguay reabre la embajada en Tel Aviv cuatro meses después de trasladarla a Jerusalén" [Paraguay reopens the embassy in Tel Aviv four months after moving it to Jerusalem]. El País (in Spanish). 5 September 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  31. ^ "Mario Abdo expresa su apoyo a Juan Guaidó" [Mario Abdo expresses his support for Juan Guaidó]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 23 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  32. ^ "Silvana López Moreira, la primera dama" [Silvana López Moreira, the First Lady]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 15 August 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  33. ^ "Taiwan, Paraguay sign joint statement pledging to deepen ties". Taiwan Today. 9 October 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  34. ^ Ko, Lin; Yeh, Su-ping (8 October 2018). "Tsai bestows honor on Paraguayan president". Central News Agency. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  35. ^ "President Tsai decorates Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez, hosts state dinner". Office of the President, Republic of China. 8 October 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  36. ^ Quirinale website

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Blas Llano
President of the Senate
Succeeded by
Roberto Acevedo Penedo
Preceded by President of Paraguay
Party political offices
Preceded by Colorado Party nominee for President of Paraguay
Succeeded by