Controversy over election of Indigenous minister

March 11, 2009

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A leading government minister has rejected the election of an Indigenous man as Paraguay’s new Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

The rejection comes after the government announced that Paraguay’s Indigenous peoples could elect the Minister of Indigenous Affairs themselves.

The winner of the elections was a Nivakle man named Erasmos Pintos. But Education and Culture minister Horacio Galeano Perrone responded immediately by saying that Pintos would not be appointed minister and that the elections were fraudulent.

‘I was chosen by 1,800 voters. The other candidates have already recognised that I am the winner,’ Pintos was reported to have said in response to Perrone’s comments. Pintos stressed that his election was fair and that he intended to talk to President Lugo and make clear Paraguay’s Indigenous peoples’ point of view.

The outgoing Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Margarita Mbywangi, was the first ever Indigenous person to be appointed to the position. She was forced out at the end of last year.