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· Paraguay

Contraband Is Big Business in Paraguay 

Jump to full article: New York Times, 2003-06-10
Author: TONY SMITH

Intro:

95 percent of the country's output, including counterfeit versions of American brands like Marlboro and Camel and Latin American favorites like Derby and Free, are smuggled through Paraguay's porous borders with Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil and then on to destinations as distant as the Caribbean, the United States and Mexico. . .

But now the country has a president-elect — Nicanor Duarte Frutos, who won handily in April and is to take office in August — who has promised to clamp down on "the chronic problems" of counterfeiting and contraband and "build a system of legality," as he put it in remarks he made to reporters on a recent visit to Brazil.

Even if he is to be believed — and there are already signs his zeal for reform might not survive long once he is in office — Mr. Duarte Frutos will have a tough job weaning the economy off contraband, even though most Paraguayans agree it is increasingly urgent that the country kick the habit. . .

Among the first people to congratulate Mr. Duarte Frutos the morning after the election at his heavily guarded home in Asunción was Senator Julio Dominguez Dibb. Mr. Dominguez Dibb's father, Oswaldo, is Paraguay's richest tobacco baron and is under investigation for trying to copy and register as his own trademark the Brazilian customs seal that must be placed on every pack of cigarettes sold in that country. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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