Paraguay’s Senate will decide on Friday whether to oust President Fernando Lugo in a lightning-quick impeachment trial that he said was tantamount to a coup.
Here are some facts about Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who took office in August 2008 for a five-year term:
* Lugo, 61, is considered the most left-wing leader Paraguay has had for decades and is part of a new wave of leftists who have come to power across much of Latin America in the past decade or so, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa.
* He was known as the “bishop of the poor” after serving 10 years as bishop in Paraguay’s poorest province. He has admitted fathering two children when he was still a bishop and the paternity scandals have clouded his presidency in the deeply Catholic nation.
* Lugo won a special dispensation from the Vatican to return to lay status after he was elected president. The Catholic Church frowns on priests being involved in politics.
* He campaigned to redistribute land to fight poverty but his agrarian reform drive stalled as the state struggled to reach agreement between peasant farmers and landholders. The opposition’s hold on Congress also has complicated his reform agenda.
* Lugo speaks the local Guarani Indian language as well as Spanish and dresses simply, although he has stopped wearing sandals, a style choice that became his trademark while on the election campaign trail.
* He has been under pressure in recent years to crackdown on the Paraguayan People’s Army, or EPP, a small left-wing group that mixes violence with a revolutionary rhetoric reminiscent of the guerrilla movements that sprang up across Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. The EPP has gained prominence due to several high-profile kidnappings and daring raids on police posts.
* Lugo was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer originating in the lymphatic system, in 2010. He underwent four months of chemotherapy treatment and doctors said last year the cancer was still in remission.
Compiled by Helen Popper; Editing by Bill Trott