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History, The Stroessner Regime

Stroessner, Colorado Party, Itaipu, Parana River, new congress

The electorate on July 11 endorsed General Alfredo Stroessner, commander in chief of the army and head of the Colorado Party. He was the only candidate. Attempts by leftist forces to seize power were put down in 1956 and 1957. A plebiscite in 1958 confirmed President Stroessner for another five-year term.

In elections for a new congress in 1960, all 60 seats were won by the presidentís supporters in the Colorado Party. Diplomatic relations with Cuba were severed in December. Paraguay was among the states that favored collective action by the Organization of American States against the Cuban regime, but such measures were not approved by the two-thirds majority required. In 1963 Stroessner was reelected president, running against the first opposition candidate in a Paraguayan presidential election in 30 years. He enjoyed some popularity in the mid-1960s, partly because of continued economic progress, but many Paraguayans had also fled into exile from his dictatorship. Stroessner continued in power in 1968 after having had the constitution altered the previous year to permit his reelection. He was again reelected in 1973, 1978, and 1983.

A significant step was taken by the Stroessner regime in the late 1960s with the establishment of close economic relations with neighboring countries. In May 1968 the La Plata Basin Pact was signed by the foreign ministers of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This agreement, calling for joint development of the La Plata River Basin, was expected to stimulate the economy of the entire region and would be of special importance to Paraguay, the least-developed nation in the area.

In the 1970s and early 1980s Paraguay was relatively calm. Itaipu, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, was built on the Parana River in a joint venture with Brazil. Inflation was controlled, but declining markets for Paraguayan exports led to rising unemployment and a worsening of the nationís trade position. The mid-1980s brought limited political liberalization, including, in 1987, the lifting of the state of siege in Asuncion. Reelected to his eighth term in 1988, Stroessner was ousted in a military coup in February 1989.

Article key phrases:

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