Paraguay today is believed to be among the three most corrupt countries in the world, and frequently ranks as the most corrupt nation in South America.
|Is Fernando Lugo Paraguay's chance for real change?|
Its central location means that its economy has benefited largely from large-scale contraband, operated by local mafias from neighbouring countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia.
For more than 60 years, only one political party has governed Paraguay - the Colorado Party - and for 35 of those years the country was ruled by General Stroessner, the Cold War era dictator who is believed to have embezzled up to $300m.
The upcoming presidential elections in April, however, are giving many Paraguayans hope for real change.
Fernando Lugo is a former bishop who is promising to bridge the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor and finally move away from the hard-line anti-communist policies of the Colorado Party and implement a neo-socialist government.
His opponents include Lino Oviedo, a highly controversial ex-army general who has recently been released from prison after serving a sentence for insurgency, and Blanca Ovelar, of the ruling Colorado Party, who declares herself to be a bold revolutionary "in a clearly macho country".
People & Power reports from Paraguay.
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This episode of People & Power airs from Sunday, February 24, 2008
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