LATIN AMERICA

Paraguay’s Lugo recognizes fathering a second son as bishop

President had affair with married nurse, but did not officially recognize son until now Aide admits that latest paternity case could tarnish leader's image

El País Agencies
Madrid - 07 Jun 2012 - 14:09
Narcisa Delacruz speaks to reporters on Tuesday.
Narcisa Delacruz speaks to reporters on Tuesday.REUTERS

Paraguay’s president, Fernando Lugo, acknowledged Tuesday that he fathered a second child while he was a Roman Catholic bishop.

In an effort to limit the damage from the latest paternity scandal to emerge during his four-year-old presidency, Lugo, 61, once known as the “bishop of the poor,” had confessed, after he was elected in 2008, to fathering one child while bishop. This latest child, a boy who is now five years old, was also conceived before Lugo quit the church to launch his political career.

On Monday, a 42-year-old nurse, Narcisa Delacruz, told the Asunción daily Última Hora, that she had sought advice from Lugo when she was having marital problems while living in the city of San Pedro.

After the boy was born, Delacruz said Lugo sent her money on a monthly basis but never officially recognized his son. “Many times he went to \[the president’s official residence\], and he was not allowed in. This made him feel very bad. ‘Why,’ he said, ‘why are so many people allowed to see him, and I, his son, cannot?’” she told Última Hora.

But on Tuesday, after Lugo said he would acknowledge the child, Delacruz said her five-year-old was happy. “See, mom, dad loves me,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Presidential secretary Miguel López Perito, a close aide to the leftist president, admitted the latest paternity case could tarnish Lugo’s image and would likely be used by the opposition against the government coalition’s candidate in the presidential race next year. Under Paraguay’s constitution, Lugo cannot seek re-election because presidents are only allowed to serve one term.

“\[The president\] told me it is his son \[and\] I think it’s good that he has immediately acknowledged him,” López Perito said.

Lugo was diagnosed with cancer, from which he has since recovered. His election in 2008 ended six decades of rule by the conservative Colorado Party.

Narcisa is married to José Zárate Rodríguez, from whom she was separated for five years during which time she had an affair with Lugo, according to the Última Hora.

Jobs in government

 “Coincidentally,” all of Narcisa’s family members received jobs in public administration after Lugo came to office, the newspaper reported.

Lugo was appointed as bishop in 1994, but resigned in 2005. At the time, he said his resignation was prompted by health issues, but he mounted a strong political campaign, backed by a coalition of leftist organizations.

The opposition-controlled Congress has stymied his reform agenda.

Since he was elected, at least two other women have come forward claiming that Lugo also fathered children with them. However, the president has not acknowledged them.

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