Several years ago I was fortunate enough to be in Asuncion on the day that a new president was inaugurated into office. The year was 2008 and the president was Fernando Lugo.

After I had breakfasted in my hotel I headed to parliament and the cathedral where the events would take place. A couple of blocks away from plaza onto which they both face there were police road blocks to control the crowds and to keep the whole area traffic free whilst the inauguration took place.

Once beyond those I found that a large crowd had already gathered, and may have been there since before dawn. There was no way I could get anywhere near the parliament building where there delegates currently were. The crowd was several rows deep in front of it.

Instead I headed over to the other side of the plaza and the cathedral where I knew everyone would be going next. When I arrived the crowds were much thinner and i was able to get a spot against the railings almost in front of the cathedral steps. There I waited for the focus of the day to shift away from parliament.

I knew when that had happened as the crowds started to build behind me as the spectators moved from one side of the plaza to the other to continue watching the days events.

Shortly afterwards the guests began to make the short journey from parliament to cathedral. First to arrive were the generals in full ceremonial dress and weighed down with medals. Next came the ambassadors and foreign representatives who had received invitations to days events. The most striking of those was the Nigerian delegation, stunning in their flowing white traditional robes.

Then it was the turn of the various Latin American presidents and their attendants to arrive and greet the gathered masses.

The two that made the greatest effort to greet the people were the two female presidents, Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Cristina de Kirchiner of Argentina. They both came right up to the barriers to shake hands with as many people as possible.

I managed to get a smile and a handshake from Cristina de Kirchiner. It was fortunate I was not looking to English or waving a Union Jack as at the time Britain and Argentina were having one of their periodical bouts of disagreements.

While they came close to the people the male presidents kept their distance. They did however all manage to wave warmly at the gathered masses.

The tow most noticeable of these were Lula of Brazil in a light suit and flowery tie and Chavez of Venezuela who was whisked past and into the cathedral by attendants dressed in black para military style uniforms.

As a note of his seniority the last of the foreign heads of state to arrive was Fidel Castro of Cuba. He was the man many of those there had come to see and greeted everyone from the top of the cathedral steps before heading inside.

With all his guests now assembled Fernando Lugo now to arrived. He headed into the cathedral so that the inauguration mass could begin.

This took place out of sight and hearing of the spectators who now filled the plaza. However no was yet going anywhere as they all waited for the new president to exit triumphantly from the cathedral. I waited at my spot on the barrier while the crowd was mainly quite around me, just gossiping in small groups.

Then finally the mass ended and Lugo was able to greet his people as their new president. A troop of smartly dressed cavalry pulled up in front of the cathedral steps with their bright Paraguayan flags held high. Lugo left the cathedral waving at everyone and climbed into the back of a pick up where surrounded by flags he was driven waving and smiling to the next event of the day, the military parade.

As I left the plaza to find somewhere for a coffee before the parade I received an omen that things may not end well for that particular president. On my way out of the plaza I was handed a souvenir calendar. Later that day when I got a chance to look at it properly I noticed that it claimed that February had 30 days…