Paraguay

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Paraguay is a country in Central South America, northeast of Argentina, which also has boundaries with Bolivia and Brazil. It became independent of Spain on 14 May 1811, and, after a period of dictatorship, is now a democracy.[1] The official language is Spanish, although a large part of the rural population speaks Guarani.[2]

Paraguay

Geography

Paraguay is landlocked. Its climate subtropical to temperate; there is substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, bit the land becomes semiarid in the far west. The capital,Asunción, is on the Rio Paraguay.

The population, between 6 and 7 million, is concentrated in the south.

History

Spanish explorers found Paraguay in 1515. While there was significant intermarriage between Spanish men and indigenous women, it was still a colony. Between 1717 and 1735, the Rebel Revolution, which evntually was crushed, formed a foundation for eventual independence under the authority of the people. Led in its first phase by José de Antequera y Castro, it was founded on the idea that real power should be exercised by natural right delegated by the people. [3]

After independence in 1811, however, there was dictatorship until 1841. Don Carlos Antonio López (Don Carlos) began liberalizing, and was named President by the Congress. He was still concerned with the plans of Argentine Juan Manuel de Rosas to create a confederation of United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.

Among the progressive actions of López’s government, standouts include the creation of the first national newspaper, The Independent Paraguayan, ships and railroads, the development of the Ybycuí foundry, and modernizing the human and industrial capital of the country. Education and culture were other areas for which Don Carlos created initiatives. He won second and third terms in office, until his death, in 1862. [3]

Under Don Carlos' son, Francisco Solano López, became one of the most questioned figures in Paraguayan history, due to the radical and extreme way in which he defended national sovereignty. [3]In the bloodiest war in the history of South America, the War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) — between Paraguay and Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay— Paraguay lost two-thirds of all adult males and much of its territory. It stagnated economically for the next half century. [1]

Early 20th Century

In the Chaco War of 1932-35, Paraguay won large, economically important areas from Bolivia.[1] Paraguayan land was also ceded to Bolivia.

World War II and Stroessner aftermath

Paraguay provided sanctuary to certain Nazi war criminals, or cooperated with those in hiding. See U.S. intelligence involvement with World War II Nazi war criminals for notes about Klaus Barbie acting as a security advisor from his Bolivian refuge. There were numerous sightings of Josef Mengele, which were of various levels of reliability. Even thoug some of this probably took place before Stroessner took power, it is an indication of political sympathies in the leadershp.

In 1954, General Alfredo Stroessner led a military coup resulting in a military dictatorship, which lasted 35 years, until 1989. Stroessner provided sanctuary to several Nazis, including Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele. His government also cooperated in the intensely anticommunist Operation Condor, allying other South American totalitarian states with the United States.

Return of democracy

He was replaced on February 3rd, 1989, by another General Andrés Rodríguez, father-in-law of General Stroessner’s son. In 1992, there were considerable liberalizations, including a new National Constitution that declared fundamental liberties not recognized in the previous constitution. The police and military were depoliticized, the justice system was reformed, and oversight bodies created. removal of party affiliations of the police and military, the renovation of the Supreme Court of Justice, the creation of the General Finance Office of the Republic and the People’s Defense Office.

In recent years, Paraguay has held relatively free and regular presidential elections since then. Elected in 2003, the current head of state and government is President Nicanor Duarte Frutos.

Light on human rights violations

In 1992, detailed records of human rights abuses under Stroessner, as well as the broader international Operation Condor, were discovered.[4]

In 1980, a U.S. court, in the landmark Filártiga v. Peña-Irala case. [5] "made history by awarding the first criminal damages against a torturer (a Paraguayan police agent) found to be in the United States. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit established that, under the Aliens Tort Claims Act of 1789, U.S. courts have jurisdiction over claims for torture brought by aliens against torturers found to be in the United States."[6] This decision opened up a new avenue for appeals of actions that took place outside the US.

Economy

Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector. This sector features both reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. [1]

Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, limited progress on structural reform, and deficient infrastructure. [1]

The economy rebounded between 2003 and 2007, posting modest growth each year, as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion.

Resources

hydropower, timber, iron ore, manganese, limestone

Agriculture

A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. Crops include cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), fruits, vegetables; beef, pork, eggs, milk; timber

Industry

Sugar, cement, textiles, beverages, wood products are produced.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Central Intelligence Agency, Paraguay, The World Factbook
  2. Human Rights Watch, Paraguay, World Atlas
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Paraguay
  4. Osorio, Carlo and Mariana Enamoneta, ed. (21 December 2007), Rendition in the Southern Cone: Operation Condor documents revealed from Paraguayan "Archive of Terror", vol. National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 239— Part II
  5. Dolly M. E. Filartiga and Joel Filartiga, v. Americo Norberto Pena-Irala,  630 F.2d 876 (United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit 30 June 1980)
  6. , XI. The Role of the United States, Argentina: Reluctant Partner. The Argentine Government's Failure to Back Trials of Human Rights Violators, December 2001