Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled the South American nation with an iron fist for 35 years, had been overthrown in 1989 and accused of corruption and crimes against humanity.
Far-right former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner Wednesday died after several days in the intensive care unit of the Santa Luzia Hospital in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, where he was treated for lung complications after an hernia operation. Stroessner, 93 at the moment of dying, became President of Paraguay in 1954 and ruled one of the poorest South American nations with an iron first, until a military coup overthrew him in 1989 under charges of corruption and crimes against humanity.
Born in Encarnacion, Paraguay, in 1912, he was the son of a German immigrant and a local peasant. As general of Paraguayan Army, he engineered the coup (1954) that toppled Federico Chavez and became president that same year.
Stroessner was keen to retain command of the armed forces and suppress all opposition, turning Paraguay into a personal dictatorship. As President of the country, he sheltered Nazi war criminals, as Eduard Roschmann, the Riga’s butcher, Josep Mengele and Martin Bormann and others.
Stroessner was "reelected" eight consecutive times (1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988) making his rule the longest in 20th-century Latin American history. During his rule, Paraguay became a paradise for corruption and smuggling of goods coming from neighbouring Argentina and Brazil.
Stroessner was fobic to communism and his friendly thus found itself friendly to the United States interests during the days of the Cold War. No communist nations, with the sole exception of Yugoslavia, had embassies in Paraguay at that time.
As his Chilean counterpart, Augusto Pinochet, Stroessner was respected by the world of finances for his pro-market policies and his policy of re-paying loans granted to the Paraguayan government by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This pro-market approach sent millions of Paraguayans into poverty, illiteracy and lack of social care.
As the communist world collapsed, Stroessner lost the friendship of the United States. Washington, together with another South American governments began to boycott his regime, which was toppled in 1989 by a new military coup. He had a taste of his own medicine.