Paraguay. Political events in Paraguay during the year revolved around the double vacancy that arose from the assassination of Vice President Luis María Argaña in March 1999 and the resignation of President Raúl Cuba shortly thereafter. In the election of new vice president on August 13, Júlio César Franco, candidate for PLRA (Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico), won by less than a percentage point margin over the murdered Argaña’s son Félix. It is the first time in 50 years that anyone from a party other than the Colorado Party will take up an executive office. The opposition has also demanded the resignation of the current president, the former Speaker of the Senate Luis González Macchi, and an unsuccessful coup attempt was carried out on 18 May. at the congress building in Asunción. However, according to a ruling in the Supreme Court, Macchi is to continue the term of Cuba’s resignation for 2003.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Paraguay. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
Former commander Lino Oviedo, who fled to Argentina in connection with Cuba’s departure, was arrested in June by Brazilian police in the border town of Foz do Iguaçu after staying hidden in Paraguay. Both in his home country and in Brazil, he risks prosecution for involvement in drug and arms smuggling and is considered to be behind both the assassination of Vice President Argaña and the coup attempt in May.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Paraguay in 2000 was 5,323,090, ranking number 107 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.190% yearly, and the population density was 13.3984 people per km2.
The Paraguay, a formally democratic country, was, in the mid-seventies, still in fact a personal dictatorship of A. Stroessner who forcibly repressed all forms of opposition and dissent. It was dominated by the Partido Colorado, while the other parties were mostly illegal but tolerated (except the communist one). In 1978 four parties gave birth to the National Agreement, the political influence of which, however, turned out to be nil.
Paraguay is essentially an agricultural country: agriculture occupies almost half of the active population, while 89% of agricultural land is in the hands of 4% of landowners. The health indices, the average per capita income and the level of nutrition place the Paraguay in the last places among the countries of Latin America. Over one million people live abroad, mainly in Argentina (of which more than 150,000 in exile for political reasons).
Beneficiaries of the regime were landowners, traders and foreign capital. Development was entrusted almost exclusively to exports, most of which were illegal, as they were the result of smuggling and drug trafficking.
The economy had grown at a rapid pace between 1973 and 1982 (11.5% per year), but the completion of the Itaipú dam – mostly built by Brazil, and which had given work and injected resources into the country – and the depreciation of exported agricultural products produced a fall in growth rates, in investments, including public investments, and in wages, and an increase in inflation, foreign debt and unemployment. This phenomenon was aggravated by the restrictive measures adopted in Argentina to contain illegal immigration and by the exhaustion of the agricultural frontier, which exposed the failures of a failed agrarian reform. The expansion of export agriculture forced tens of thousands of peasants to urbanize. At the same time, the income related to smuggling contracted, due to the diminished purchasing capacity of neighboring countries. The attempt to revive the illegal economy by intensifying drug trafficking led to new clashes with the US after those registered under the presidency of JE Carter for the violation of human rights.
The economic crisis was juxtaposed with a political crisis with the end of the dictatorships in Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina, and this led to even greater isolation on the international level. From the mid-1980s there was a wave of unrest which was severely suppressed. The peasant movements revived, with land occupation and requests for an incisive agrarian reform, and the independent trade unions, which even without legal vestments managed at times to establish themselves as interlocutors; new opponents arose both within the middle class and among the industrialists, urban social movements arose, the Church itself radicalized its positions and Pope John Paul II sided with him on the occasion of his visit in 1988.
The regime was forced to allow the return of political exiles and to suspend, in 1987, a state of siege that had lasted since 1954. The role of the parties, on the other hand, was poor, and they failed to develop a common program, while after 1983 the maneuvers against Stroessner they came from a wing of the Partido Colorado which claimed to prepare his succession in collaboration with the Armed Forces. This faction, defeated in August 1987, was removed from the party leaders and from public office.