- Title: PARAGUAY: Paraguay's Lugo apologises for paternity scandal
- Date: 26th April 2009
- Summary: ASUNCION, PARAGUAY (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS WITH LUGO WITH HIS VICE PRESIDENT FEDERICO FRANCO CELEBRATED ELECTION VICTORY
- Embargoed: 11th May 2009 13:00
- Location: Paraguay
- Country: Paraguay
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA9RN39Z5UEPD9B4VUGSSS5D7VK
- Story Text: Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo says the recent political scandal surrounding three paternity claims made against him will not affect his running of the country.
The Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo asked for forgiveness on Friday (April 24), hoping to defuse a scandal over claims from three women that he fathered their children.
Three women have come forward in the last two weeks and claimed that Lugo fathered their children. The president used to be a bishop, and in the apology he recognized that he had wronged the church and the people of Paraguay.
"At the same time as asking for forgiveness for these circumstances, I want to ratify that my version will always be the truth, no matter if that version is given as a confirmation, in direct denials or through the judicial process. I will not leave the Paraguayan public without the revelation of the truth when the light is shone on it. Nor will I will I shield myself behind privacy when it is time to express the truth," Lugo told a news conference in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion.
Lugo has recognized the first child that came to light, but left the other cases in the hands of the courts.
Benigna Leguizamon, 27, has filed a lawsuit to get Lugo to take a DNA test to prove he is the father of her six-year-old boy. Damiana Moran, a teacher aged 39, is also negotiating child support with the president's lawyer for her one-year-old son.
Meanwhile the first woman to come forth, Viviana Carrillo, claimed she started having sex with Lugo when she was 16, below the legal age of consent in Paraguay.
"It has never been in my character to hurt anybody, but even less a small child or any woman. I want to express that the characterization that is being made about me does not correlate to my attitude, which is always been to serve to and to share," Lugo said.
Opposition politicians from the conservative Colorado Party, in power for decades before Lugo's victory, railed that the president was a national embarrassment and not trustworthy.
But Lugo said he had no intention of resigning.
"To ask for forgiveness time and time again, I assume the responsibility of being the president, that Paraguay chose to make a change without turning back. And that change will not come to an end. I will not allow in anyway for these circumstances to affect in even a minimum way the national interest," Lugo said.
Lugo was elected a year ago at the head of a center-left coalition and took office in August, pledging land reform to help poor peasants in the landlocked South American nation that exports beef, soy, and electricity.
His regional neighbors, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said they saw no damage to bilateral relations.
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