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Media Reports Link Paraguayan President to Contraband Cigarettes, Drug Cartels

LADB Article ID: 79762
Category/Department: Paraguay
Date: 2015-09-11
By: Andrés Gaudín

No sooner did the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) take the surprising step three months ago of removing Paraguay from its list of international copyright and trademark violators than accusations began to surface questioning the South American country’s supposed "good behavior" in that regard. Paraguay has a well-established reputation as a haven for contraband and counterfeiting, and, according to reports presented before the country’s legislature, nothing has changed. For many observers, therefore, the suggestion that Paraguay earned its way off the USTR blacklist through real improvement of its commercial practices is problematic. Skeptics include opposition leader Rafael Filizzola of the Partido Democrático Progresista (PDP), who saw the USTR decision as a way to "reward" the government of President Horacio Cartes, and Santiago Ortiz, secretary of the Sindicato de Periodistas de Paraguay (SPP) journalists union, who publicly accused Washington of "compensating [Cartes] for continuing to place Paraguay at the service of US military-security policy in the region."

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