Paraguay has for many years been characterized by social
instability in combination with difficult social conditions.
Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of PRY and acronym for Paraguay. The country is characterized by major class differences and
regional differences with the most distorted land
distribution in Latin America: 80 percent of the land is
owned by less than 10 percent of the population. More than
half of the population lives in poverty according to the UN,
with the highest figures in rural and urban slums.
State health care expenditures are among the lowest in
Latin America. Official unemployment is estimated at about 6
percent (2011), but up to 60 percent work in the informal
sector. Like the industrialization, the trade union movement
has a short tradition and around 10 percent of the labor
force is unionized.
In April 2005, the State Attorney ordered former General
and Chief of Defense Staff Alejandro Fretes arrested. He was
accused of participating in the South American
dictatorship's coordinated "disappearance" program of
leftists in the 1970's and '80's - the so-called Plan
Cóndor. The judge who issued the arrest warrant, Gustavo
Santander, took into account the ex-general's high age (84
years), so Fretes is held in house arrest.
The Senate, following pressure from the United States in
2005, passed a law that allows North American freedom and
residence in Paraguay, while also depriving the country of
its right to investigate crimes committed by foreign
soldiers. At the same time, Paraguay waived its right to
bring the United States to the International Criminal Court
(ICC), which Paraguay has otherwise helped to establish. The
legislation was just one more among a number of examples
where the United States has put pressure on the foreign
government to commit war crimes - such as torture, massacre
and murder in Iraq - without being brought before the
International Criminal Court. In return for the legislation,
Paraguay was promised that the FBIwill participate in the
investigation of a number of abduction and extortion cases.
However, a large number of NGOs in the country voiced fears
that legislation should at the same time pave the way for
the establishment of a North American military base in the
In March 2006, around 40,000 demonstrated against
Duarte's authoritarian rule. Despite rejection by the
opposition and the majority of the media, the president
launched a constitutional reform that would allow his
In March 2007, the government declared the country in a
state of emergency following uncontrollable outbreaks of
dengue fever. According to official figures, over 16,000
cases were recorded in the first 3 months of the year, while
other sources placed the number of sick people over 100,000.
The opposition criticized the government for indifference
and concentrated its criticism on the director of the
National Center for the Eradication of Insect-borne
Diseases, Humberto Recalde. He was subsequently fired.
The opposition presidential candidate, Fernando Lugo, won
the April 2008 election over the Colorado party's Blanca
Ovelar. The party had been in power for 60 years, and its
staging of a female candidate was its last attempt to avert
defeat. Lugo has a past as a Catholic bishop, and it was
precisely this role that, like many other opposites, he was
not killed or disappeared during the United States supported
Stroesner's dictatorship (1954-89). Although he has been
compared to other Latin American left-wing presidents such
as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Lugo states that he will follow
his own course as president of the poor of Paraguay. At the
top of his program is the desire for better land
distribution in the country.
After his deployment, Lugo was involved in a number of
startling paternity cases in which women claimed he was the
father of their children. Relationships that should have
happened while Lugo acted as bishop.
Lugo was hated by the nation's citizenship for advocating
land reform, fighting corruption, free health care and cheap
housing for the country's poor. He also had one of the
leaders of the Aché people, Margarita Mbywangi as minister
of the affairs of the indigenous peoples.
On June 15, 2012, clashes between landless peasants and
police attempted to remove them from occupied land. The
clash cost 17 killed. The following day, Lugo replaced his
Interior Minister and the Chief of the National Police. Five
days later, the Chamber of Deputies and the day after the
Senate voted first to grant Lugo a court of justice. A
decision that was stamped by the Supreme Court. Lugo was
thus deposed and replaced by his Vice President Federico
Franco. The plot was termed a coup d'état by Lugo himself
and most Latin American countries. It confirmed that despite
his reform initiatives during his four years in office, he
had not been able to clean up the old structures of society
from the days of the dictatorship.
The April 2013 parliamentary and presidential election
was won by the Colorado party, which had held power for 60
years except for the brief period under Lugo in 2008-12. The
party's presidential candidate Horacio Cartes got 48.5% of
the vote. It got 41.5% in the election to the Senate and 41%
in the election to the House of Representatives. The downed
President Fernando Lugo was elected to the Senate.
One year after the Curuguaty massacre, which cost 11
farmers and 6 policemen the lives, the authorities had not
initiated any investigation into the events. Another year
later, 12 peasants were put on the indictment for the murder
of the 6 policemen, while the killings of the 11 peasants
had still not been the subject of investigation.