On Wednesday, the President of Paraguay, Mario Abdo, said that Deputy CIA Director David Cohen had visited him to address “national security” concerns. The next election may put Paraguay’s stance of recognizing Taiwan as part of the “Republic of China” to the test.
Paraguay, which is sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil and has a population of just seven million people, is a country that Washington, D.C., pays attention to only rarely. Reuters, on the other hand, pointed out that the impending election “may define the country’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan and China.”
Abdo tweeted on Wednesday a photo of himself shaking hands with David Cohen. He captioned the photo, “We received a visit from David Cohen, who brought up the topic of strengthening cooperation between our countries in matters pertaining to national security.”
This week has been filled with high-level interactions between the United States and Paraguay, including Abdo’s meeting with Cohen. Julio Arriola, the Foreign Minister of Paraguay, was in Washington on Monday when he met with Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State of the United States. On Tuesday, Abdo boarded a flight to the United States.
The United States Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay, issued a statement confirming the meeting and stating it “took place within the framework of robust bilateral cooperation” between the two countries. The embassy also noted that the meeting addressed “shared strategies for combating global threats.”
Paraguay is one of only 13 nations worldwide and the only one in South America to recognize Taiwan as the “Republic of China” and exchange ambassadors with Taipei. Moreover, Paraguay is the only country in South America to do so.
The general elections in Paraguay are planned to take place on April 30. While Abdo is ineligible for reelection, the Colorado Party is working to maintain its hold on the executive branch. But, its competitor, the Authentic Radical Liberal (PLRA), Efrain Alegre, has been gaining ground in the polls, which is terrible news for the party’s candidate, Santiago Pena.
Both Abdo’s predecessors, Horacio Cartes and Hugo Velazquez, now serving as vice president, have recently been hit with penalties by the United States Treasury Department after being accused of “significant” levels of corruption. Both have responded by denying all of the charges.