Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Paraguay
|Publication Date||10 July 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Paraguay, 10 July 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4912b62a28.html [accessed 17 December 2014]|
Period of democratic transition: 1989
Pro-democracy civic movement: not present
General Alfredo Stroessner violently seized control of the politically unstable Paraguayan government in May 1954 with the use of the armed forces. Stroessner was nominated president two months later by the Colorado Party and immediately declared a state of siege, which he renewed every three months until 1987. Fraud, repression, and torture became hallmarks of his regime, with no allowance for civil society participation.
In April 1987, Stroessner allowed the decades-long state of siege to lapse. Rivals were then freer to claim that there had been widespread fraud in the 1988 elections, after which the government announced that Stroessner won his eighth consecutive presidential term with 89 percent of the vote. General Andres Rodriguez, Stroessner's second in command and longtime aide as well as rival, had quietly aligned himself with a political faction that favored limited democratic reforms, earning the displeasure of Stroessner. In February 1989, Rodriguez led the violent coup that ousted Stroessner. Rodriguez's troops attacked the presidential guards, and fighting lasted for eight hours with at least 100 soldiers killed. Rodriguez was elected president in elections that May and enacted political and economic reforms. A new democratic constitution was adopted in 1992, and the first free multiparty elections were held in 1993.
The 1999 assassination of Vice President Luis Maria Ferraro highlighted the widespread corruption in the government and marked the point at which political instability returned. Civic groups are free to protest, while nonviolent elections have continued, yet the country has been unable to settle into a lengthy period of functional stability.