On April 30, 1939 Josè Felix Estigarribia was elected president who immediately set to work to improve the country’s economy. He had a project for the construction of a railway towards the port of Santos studied and began the construction of a road between Asuncion and Villarrica; concluded commercial treaties with Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay.
At the beginning of 1940, unrest occurred which forced him to assume full powers; he had the new Constitution drawn up by a special commission, which was approved in August. He then called the elections for the following November but died on September 7 in a plane crash.
He was succeeded by the Minister of War, General Higinio Morinigo, who immediately postponed the elections to 1943 and established the dictatorship, also stifling two revolts.
He participated in various diplomatic conferences, and on December 10, 1941 he declared his solidarity with the United States after the Japanese aggression and broke diplomatic relations with the Axis. Within the country, the repressive measures adopted aroused discontent and unrest which, however, did not cause rebellion, above all for the arrival of aid from the United States and for the signing of new commercial treaties with Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. Even the dictatorship had an extension of 5 years during which Morinigo promised to carry out a substantial economic plan.
In the first months of 1944 there were attempts to revolt, immediately sedated; Morinigo, in an attempt to gain US sympathy, sought to moderate his system of government; in June 1946 he fired the fascist army commander, Colonel Benitez; in July he restored the freedom of the press, formed a ministry with almost all civilians, granted legality to the Communist party and called the elections for December. Instead in September of the same year he restored a Cabinet of all military personnel and in January 1947 he resumed command of the armed forces and ruled again by force.
According to Abbreviationfinder, a revolt broke out on March 7 in the two cities of Asuncion and Conception. In the capital it was immediately tamed but continued to Conception; shortly thereafter there was the civil war. Morinigo capitulated Conception; he granted an amnesty and promised elections which took place on February 15, 1948, with him as candidate, and with the Minister of Finance, Natalicio Gonzales, designated by him.
In April communist terrorist plots were discovered; in June there was a coup d’état by the military who deposed Morinigo assigning provisional power to Gonzales.
Diplomatic relations with Spain were restored on September 2, 1946.
In turn, Gonzales was overthrown on January 30, 1949 by a coup d’état organized by the Minister of Education Molus Lopez.
In that year, within a few months, three presidents took turns, the last of whom Federico Chaves, elected on 16 July 1950, began a rather peaceful period of government, without progress and democracy. He made a collaboration pact with Peron’s Argentina but the unwilling military, led by General Alfredo Stroessner in May 1954 overthrew the government.
Then in July of the same year, General Stroessner, the only candidate in the elections, was elected president of the republic and a new dictatorship began. In February 1958 he was re-elected for 5 years together with 60 single list deputies. But, both under pressure from political exiles from abroad and because of internal opposition, supported by the clergy and intellectuals, Stroessner declared on 10 April 1959 that he wanted to restore the democratic rule of law; instead, on May 30, the Congress dissolved.
All the political upheavals that occurred in the Caribbean states between 1959 and 1961 contributed greatly to making difficult the situation of the dictator of Paraguay who, however, became part of the Latin American free trade zone, created with the Montevideo treaty of February 17, 1960 and signed the Punta del Este Charter in August 1961.
Stroessner’s dictatorial regime lasted a long time. In fact, in August 1963 he occupied the presidential chair for the third consecutive time. The exiled opponents had increased and the Church gradually made her voice heard in their defense. In 1970 the conflicts between the Church and the dictator increased due to the expulsion of a priest. Protests took place, which were immediately repressed, but the perpetrators of these repressions were excommunicated. However, both the subsequent elections of 1973 and 1978 reconfirmed General Stroessner in power.
The economic conditions of the masses remained without substantial improvements; few schools were built to combat illiteracy; better it went in relation to the construction of roads that could bring Paraguay out of the isolation in which it was forced due to its geographical position. Health indexes, the average income of the people and the level of nutrition still place Paraguay at the bottom of Latin America.
Beneficiaries of the regime were wealthy landowners, merchants and foreign capital. Exports, largely illegal, are still the result of smuggling and drug trafficking.
The economic crisis went hand in hand with the political one. The various dictatorships of Latin America fell; they revitalized the peasant movements with the occupation of the lands and the unions regained part of their conscience, even going so far as to propose themselves as interlocutors in some circumstances. The Church supported these agitations with the approval of Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his pastoral visit in 1988.
On 3 February 1989, the General A. Rodriguez, consuocero Stroessner, led a coup that ousted; he exiled him to Brazil; he became provisional president and legalized the parties and freed political prisoners.
In the regular May elections he was elected by a large majority. The democratic transformation of Paraguay began. The new constitution, promulgated on June 20, 1992, provided for the election of the president and deputy with a simple majority; it recognized the right to strike even in public sectors and abolished the death penalty.
In the 1993 presidential election, Colorado Party chief JC Wasmosy was elected, a tycoon supported by Rodriguez.
In May 1994, for the first time in its history, Paraguay registered an impressive general strike, aimed at fighting corruption, obtaining a 40% wage increase and against economic integration with neighboring countries. That strike also caused twenty victims.
All this because Wasmosy, while carrying out the reforms in the judicial field, in the privatization and in the pension one, had always persisted in not launching any innovation in the agricultural field.
The various attempts to occupy the estates by landless peasants had always been severely repressed.
Striking financial scandals took place under the Wasmosy administration in which the country’s central bank was also implicated. Corruption related to drug trafficking and money laundering continued to occur, as a result of which relations with the United States deteriorated, which had never stopped asking for a massive government intervention to regenerate the environment.
Even the relations with Brazil, with Argentina and with Uruguay, partners of MERCOSUR, that is Mercado Comun del SUR, experienced a cooling off as well as their repeated reform requests were never taken into consideration by the Wasmosy Administration which, thus, during 1996 the danger of being eliminated ran.
Also, between the government and armed forces, commanded by General Oviedo, they had raised the barriers of misunderstanding, as each member of the army had been deprived of the right to join a political party.
All this contrasted with the plans of Oviedo which, instead, intended to run for the 1998 presidential elections and for this purpose practiced a sustained political activity.
For this reason, in April 1996 Oviedo was ousted from his office with an order from the President, to which, however, Oviedo responded with a refusal to obey and indeed with a threat to bomb the presidential palace if Wasmosy himself had not resigned.
And here began a strong and constant pressure from the United States which eventually convinced Oviedo to leave the post of commander of the armed forces to take on that of Minister of Defense.
But this result was not recognized by the Congress which, instead, in June ordered the arrest of Oviedo on charges of sedition. However, he remained under arrest for a short time and in September 1997 he ran for president in opposition to Argana, candidate of the Republican National Association.
In December of the same year Oviedo was arrested again on the orders of Wasmosy who had been publicly accused of corruption by him. In March 1998 Oviedo was found guilty by a special military court and sentenced to ten years in prison.
In the general elections of May 1998 the presidency went to Cubas-Grau, of the Partido Colorado, which had a majority in both branches of Congress. The first act as president Cubas-Grau did it to commute the sentence of Oviedo from ten years to three months, thus decreeing his release. But Congress did not approve this decision and proposed that an impeachment lawsuit be brought against Cubas-Grau.
A conflict situation took place between Congress and the Presidency, which worsened even more when Vice President Argana was assassinated and principals Cubas-Grau and Oviedo were recognized. Both of them fled; the first in Brazil and the second in Argentina.
In this circumstance, the president of Congress, Senator L. Gonzales Macchi, a member of the Partido Colorado, assumed the office of president, as required by law, who in March 1999 formed a coalition government and with this he immediately began work on economic development and recovery and for the reconstitution of the armed forces.