Paraguay. At the beginning of May, the leading unions
conducted a two-day general strike; they demanded a salary
increase of 31% (instead of the 10% offered by the
government) and the resignation of President Juan Carlos
Wasmosy. According to
Countryaah.com, 50 people were injured and 20 arrested in
connection with the strike.
During a power struggle between President Wasmosy and
Army Chief Lino Oviedo, the latter threatened in April to
have his troops attack the presidential palace. He was,
however, eventually maneuvered from his command position by
Wasmosy. United States, and later turned over to a military
The first free municipal elections in June 91 caused a
significant decline for the Colorado Party and gave the
opposition considerable progress. In the capital Asuncion,
this was especially true of the independent movement,
Asuncion for All. The leader of this movement, Carlos
Filizzola, a young doctor of 31 years, was supported by CUT
and by other social groups and elected as mayor of Asunción
by more than 35% of the vote. At his deployment, he promised
to develop a management for the benefit of the public
sectors of the city.
In the election to the Constitutional Assembly held in
December, the Colorado Party got 60% of the vote. Domingo
Laínos PLRA came in second with 29% and Filizzola's
Movimiento Constitución para Todos came in third place.
The new Constitution of 1992 replaced the 1967 one that
Stroessner had drafted. Neither the President of the
Republic, the Supreme Court, nor Congress participated in
the publication of the new constitution, which included
comprehensive rules for the protection of human rights and
prohibited the death penalty for simple crimes.
Repeated allegations of corruption within the army -
including drug trafficking - were the cause of
investigations. Arrest warrants were issued against a number
of generals. Among other things. the commander of the army.
In December, Paraguay, together with Argentina, Brazil
and Uruguay, signed an agreement on the creation of a common
market, Mercosur, to enter into force in 1995.
In a climate marked by threats of electoral fraud and
military declarations to hold the ruling Colorado Party in
power, government candidate Juan Carlos Wasmosy got 40% of
the vote in the May 1993. 75% of the 1.7 million eligible
voters. Border military units prevented Paraguayans living
in Argentina and Brazil from participating in the elections.
PLRA got 33% of the vote and Encuentro Nacional - a
coalition of business people - got 25%.
When Wasmosy was deployed in August, he became the first
elected civilian president in the country's 182-year
independence. Congress for the first time assigned civilian
control over the military.
In September, the Jewish World Congress turned to Wasmosy
to ask for access to the government archives to locate the
Nazis who had fled to Paraguay after World War II.
In May 94, the Parliament passed a law prohibiting the
participation of military people in party political
activity. It immediately led the government and the military
to take action to make the law unconstitutional. This
attitude caused the opposition parties to break the
cooperation pact with the Colorado Party.
Following pressure from the United States, Wasmosy
appointed General Ramón Rozas Rodríguez as chief of the drug
fight. Rozas was assassinated in 94 before presenting a
report on the illegalities in the military hierarchy -
including General Lino Oviedo.
Violent clashes between farmers and police took place in
a number of the country's regions. 100 protesters who
blocked the road to Asuncion were injured by rubber bullets.
The peasants were supported by ecclesiastical organizations,
trade unions and opposition parties. In May, a general
strike was declared for higher wages and agricultural
reforms, as well as in protest against the privatization of
state-owned companies. The government acknowledged that
purchasing power had declined by 42% over the previous 5
years and increased wages by 35%. In December, all timber
exports were banned to halt forest felling.
In January 1995, the National Commission on Human Rights
stated that many of the criminal acts of the Stroessner
period remained unpunished and that the killing of peasants
In April 96, the president retired eight high-ranking
military people. General Oviedo rejected the order and
rebelled with a group of young officers. From his refuge in
the United States Embassy, President Wasmossy Oviedo
appointed Secretary of Defense, in order to curb the crisis.
Later, the appointment was withdrawn. In May, the Colorado
Party and the opposition agreed to ban the participation of
military people in political activity.
At the internal elections in the Colorado Party in
September 1997, Lino Oviedo was named presidential candidate
with 36.8% of the vote against Luis María Argañas 35% and
Wasmosy's candidate, Carlos Facettis 22.5%. In October,
however, Oviedo was arrested on charges of rebellion.