1912 - ?
Dictator President of Paraguayby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Alfredo Stroessner served as dictator of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. Born in the city of Encarnación on November 3, 1912, Stroessner's childhood was that of any normal child. During his adolescent years Stroessner became a soldier. Slowly, he rose to the rank of a general, and fought in the Chaco War. After leading a coup against Paraguay's leader, Frederico Chaves, Stroessner became president of Paraguay.
The United States helped and supported Stroessner when he first became president, thinking that he would continue to lead the country with the democracy they had enjoyed for many years. However, it became clear that Stroessner did not believe in democracy, and after several years the United States removed their support when they realized Stroessner had turned Paraguay into a Nazi war criminal refuge during WWII.
Through Stroessner's leadership the Paraguay government became more and more corrupt. The government attempted to seize control over every aspect of the people's lives. However, one obstacle stood in Stroessner's path to absolute power, the Catholic Church.
In the 1960s, the Catholic Church became distanced from Stroessner's regime. Many religious leaders voiced their concern over Stroessner's abuse of human rights and the lack of social reform. (Ohlin Instutet) As a result the power hungry regime began to persecute the Catholic Church. Many priests firmly held on to their beliefs despite the persecution. Many moved into poor neighborhoods, and began to encourage the lower class to exercise their political rights that were promised them in their country's constitution. (Ohlin Instutet)
The Stroessner regime did not approve of this and began to invade the Catholic universities, beating the students and arresting the teachers. (Ohlin Instutet) As time went on the situation became worse. Soon the government arrested church activists and students. The persecution became so bad that the government began to expel Jesuits, and the regime refused to acknowledge Maricevich as archbishop in 1969.
Stroessner began to get even more pressure from the Catholic Church on the issue of human rights. The government and the church battled on this issue for years. Stroessner began allowing some free elections in an attempt to please the democratic church and people. Stroessner also tried to shift the people's focus off the church and on to the good accomplishments of his regime. He boasted of the world's largest hydroelectric station which increased Paraguay's economy through electricity sales. (Wikipedia) However, Paraguay was not at all a democracy under Stroessner's leadership, and his distractions did not fool the church.
By 1889, the people had had enough. It had become clear that Stroessner's "presidency" was nothing better than a totalitarian regime. Leading a coup against the Stroessner regime, General Andrés Rodriguez fought to restore constitutional democracy to Paraguay. Rodriguez's success ended the 35 year rule of Alfredo Stroessner, and Stroessner was exiled to Brazil.
Since Stroessner's regime the Paraguay government has become a democracy. No longer do the people have to live under a government that threatens their human rights.
1. http://www.ohlininstutet.nu/skrifter/paraguay.htm. Paraguay. Ohlin Instutet. 11/23/03
2. http://en2.wikipedia.org/eiki/Alfredo Stroessner. Alfredo Stroessner. Wikipedia.