Alfredo Stroessner

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Alfredo Stroessner

Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (born November 3, 1912) is a politician and general from Paraguay who served as President and dictator of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989.


Early life

He was born in Encarnaci髇; his father Hugo was an accountant for a brewery who emigrated from Germany; his mother, Heriberta Matiauda, was a Paraguayan national. His name is spelled either Stroessner, Str鰏sner or Str鲞ner. At the age of 17, Stroessner joined the army and became a lieutenant two years later. He fought in the Chaco War against Bolivia in 1932, and through the next years he rose steadily in rank. In 1948 he attained the rank of Brigadier General and became the youngest General in South America.

Stroessner became overcommendant of the Paraguayan Army and in 1954 he was appointed to Divisions general and later forced Federico Chavez out of office with a military coup. Stroessner became president and then was re-elected to 8 consecutive terms (in 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988), enjoying the longest rule in Latin America in the 20th Century (with the exception of Fidel Castro), staying in power for 35 years.


Stroessner was a very energetic leader and reportedly started his working days at 4:00 by giving orders from his bed and going to work in the government palace no later than 6:00; with exception for a 3 hour break at mid-day, Stroessner reportedly worked until 1:00 and never took a vacation during his rule.

Stroessner despised Communism and due to this his regime was friendly to US interests. He was also respected for his financial discipline for his policies of re-paying loans granted to the Paraguayan government by the World Bank and other institutions and thus keeping the currency stable. The friendship with the USA continued for many years until the Reagan Administration began to boycott his regime and country.

As a statesman, Stroessner made numerous state visits, including to the Emperor of Japan, President Johnson, Charles de Gaulle and several visits to Germany, but through the years his relations with Germany eroded. As always being known as pro-German, the worsening of relations with Germany, combined with his feeling that the USA abandoned him, were regarded as personal blows to Stroessner.

Although Stroessner was a very strict autocrat, he did become more tolerant of political opposition through the course of time. However, it is estimated by some that his regime cost the lives of between 400 and 3000 people due to his strong-arm tactics during his 35 year rule, and his regime is also blamed for torture, kidnappings and widespread corruption; charges of corruption at some levels in his government is something that he has not disputed. Stroessner also had very poor relations with the Catholic Church and is blamed for numerous actions against the church; some maintain that the Catholic Church is the only reason Stroessner did not have absolute control over the country.

Stroessner showed definite sympathies to Ex-Nazis, as he allegedly granted asylum and hid numerous Ex-Nazis in Paraguay, including the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele, after the Second World War. The Mengele Affair caused a lot of very bad press for Stroessner and he was really punished by the world media for his alleged involvement.

Stroessner was, however, known for several positive economic policies, including the building of the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, with which he exported electricity to other countries, definitely improving Paraguay's economy. He was also known for many infrastructure projects that definitely improved the country's highway system. One more program that Stroessner supported was the granting of twenty hectares of arable lands for a nominal price to any soldier who completed military service, provided that the soldier would use the land for farming purposes. In fact over 10,000 soldiers did use this to their advantage.


In 1989, after his 35 year rule, Stroessner was ousted by a coup d'閠at led by General Andr閟 Rodriguez, and he fled to Brazil, where he is currently living in exile.

The eastern city Puerto Flor de Lis was renamed Puerto Presidente Stroessner in his honour, but in 1989 was then again renamed Ciudad del Este.

Further reading

  • Paraguay Under Stroessner, by Paul H. Lewis
  • Stroessner Era: Authoritarian Rule in Paraguay by Carlos R. Miranda
Preceded by:
Tom醩 Romero Pereira
President of Paraguay Succeeded by:
Andr閟 Rodr韌uez
de:Alfredo Stroessner

es:Alfredo Stroessner it:Alfredo Stroessner he:אלפרדו סטרוסנר nl:Alfredo Stroessner


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