A third woman in two weeks has claimed that Paraguay’s bishop-turned-president Fernando Lugo fathered her child, intensifying a political scandal that has made him the butt of lewd jokes and even a pop song.
Damiana Moran, a teacher aged 39, told local media that Lugo was the father of her one-year-old son and she was negotiating child support with the president’s lawyer.
Two days after going public, a second woman, Benigna Leguizamon, 27, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to get Lugo to take a DNA test to prove he is the father of her six-year-old boy.
Earlier this month, Viviana Carrillo, 26, stunned Paraguayans when she revealed that Lugo, known as the “bishop of the poor” before he quit the church in late 2006 to run for president, was the father of her son, who is almost two.
The president recognized Carrillo’s boy as his son and even remarked that they looked alike, but he has not accepted or denied paternity in the two newer cases.
Many Paraguayans said he was brave to admit paternity in the first case and women in his Cabinet defended the 57-year-old leader, even though Carrillo claimed she started having sex with Lugo when she was 16, below the legal age of consent in Paraguay.
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 analysts said the political damage would be light.
“Yes, a lot of people are indignant and it will damage Lugo’s image, but it’s not going to become a question of state or interrupt the government,” analyst Alfredo Boccia said.
He predicted that the paternity suits would soon move onto the back pages as Paraguayans turn their attention back to perennial issues such as poverty as the economy stumbles.
The president’s office said it was setting up a team to handle the complaints and related media requests.
Political commentators said Lugo’s failure to make good on his promises of cleaning up corruption and finding land for poor farmers would hurt him more than paternity suits.
“In Paraguay, we don’t punish people for moral mistakes. This isn’t the United States. But, if he continues being inefficient in governing that will be a much bigger scandal,” Bernardino Cano Radil, a former congressman with the Colorado Party, told Nanduti radio station.
Many jokes making the rounds in Asuncion focus on Lugo having broken his vows of celibacy as a bishop, but apparently respecting church rules against condoms.
“Lugo’s got heart, but he didn’t use a condom,” go the lyrics of a Paraguayan dance tune.
In fact, in a macho country such as Paraguay, some said Lugo could gain status by breaking priestly vows.
Lugo’s brother Pompeyo Lugo told Argentine radio love is more important than celibacy, which goes against human nature, and said the president had lived the greatest love story in Paraguay in a century.