Paraguay is a country in South America and is the second poorest country on the continent. Like the rest of South America, it has had a problem with dictators.
Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia
Jose Rodriguez de Francia became the first dictator (of many) of Paraguay in 1814. He established Paraguay's first secret police force (of many) to round up as many people as possible to use for cheap prison labor. He was also fond of executions, and he had lots of dissidents hanged from an orange tree outside his mansion.
One of Francia's first decrees as president was to ban non-interracial marriage. Only interracial marriages were allowed so that the population could homogenize (no more whites or indigenous, only mixed-race "mestizos"). He also abolished higher education so more people would join his army.
Francisco Solano Lopez
Francisco was the eldest son of Juana Pabla Carrillo and Carlos Antonio Lopez, a former president of Paraguay (and surprisingly not a dictator). When Francisco himself became president, his mother revealed to him that he had been born before his parents married, and so Francisco had technically been born a bastard. Francisco had his mother whipped in public for this.
During the 19th Century, Paraguay was much bigger and more populated than it is today, and was in fact in the same league as Brazil and Argentina as far as territory and population. That is, until it unwisely tried to steal some land from Brazil in 1864 to get an ocean coast and got itself involved in a war against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, a war that became known as War of the Triple Alliance. Amazingly, Lopez's Paraguay actually managed to put up a fair fight, and only gave up when Lopez (and a whopping 70% of the male population) got killed after six years of fighting.
General Alfredo Stroessner (of German origin) became military dictator of Paraguay following a coup in 1954. He made Paraguay a notable hideout for Nazis and played a prominent role in Operation Condor from 1975 until the mid-80s. Also, his whole dictatorship was run by pedophiles. In 1989, he was overthrown in a military coup. What goes around comes around.
He was the military dictator who overthrew Stroessner. Interestingly, his daughter was married to Stroessner's son.
Surprisingly, there have been some.
Fernando Lugo was the first Paraguayan head of state since 1948 not to be a member of the all-powerful Colorado Party. A former Catholic bishop with left-leaning sympathies, he admitted to having several relationships with women, some of them when he was still bishop, and fathered a number of illegitimate children. He was impeached in 2012 on flimsy pretexts.
Paraguay's flag is unique in that it has two different emblems on its obverse side (front, as pictured above) and reverse (back) side, a trait only shared by a few municipal flags, including the modern flag of Oregon.
On the bright side, it's the happiest nation in the world.
- Nigel Cawthorne, Empress of South America
- Youkee, Mat, "How Paraguay Is Finally Reckoning With Its Dark Past", Americas Quarterly 18 October 2016.
- The Times
- See the Wikipedia article on Languages of Paraguay.
- See the Wikipedia article on Flag of Paraguay.
- This Country, Once Again, Is the Happiest Nation in the World