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Lugo is just like all the politicians. He promised work for the whole world and he didn’t come through,” Tomas Benitez said Friday as he threw empty bottles and cans into the battered cart he pulls through downtown Asuncion. “I, my wife and my three children have to recycle trash to survive, but there are people who live quite well in this country.”

Mr. Lugo still has 15 months left in office, but the leftists who helped him get there, such as farmworkers’ leader Belarmino Balbuena, are already moving on, trying to find a candidate better able to wield power.

“With Lugo, a change began toward the strengthening of democracy, but we still need land reform, health and education for the poor; job creation, work for thousands and thousands of young people, the establishment of taxes on grain exports and personal income, and other issues that are key for a functioning state,” he said.