Paraguay: key historical events

Page last modified 9/1/2021


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1994, The Paraguayan Congress tried, but failed, to limit the power of the military.

Rule of General Stroessner

3/2/1989, General Stroessner of Paraguay was ousted in a coup after eight terms and 35 years in office. General Andres Rodriguez, previously close to Stroessner, took control.

1973, Brazil and Paraguay agreed to build a large hydro-electric dam on the Parana River at Itaipu.

2/3/1954, President Lopez of Paraguay died, aged 54, as Asuncion. General Alfredo Stroessner was elected in his place; he gave refuge to Nazi war criminals.

1948, A 6-year period of political instability began, with 6 different Presidents during this period.

10/10/1938, A meeting of Latin American Presidents awarded most of the Chaco Boreal to Paraguay, whilst providing that Bolivia should have a trade route to the Atlantic via the Paraguay River.

11/3/1936. Paraguay set up America’s first Fascist regime.

12/6/1935. Bolivia and Paraguay signed an armistice to end their 3 year war over the disputed Chaco area. This war had claimed 35,000 lives for the Chaco Boreal, a wasteland of some 100,000 square miles west of the Paraguay River, the subject of a dispute between Paraguay and Bolivia since 1825. Bolivia, deprived of its coastal territories since the Pacific War with Chile, wanted to use the Chaco as a shipping route for its oil exports, and to exploit the oil reserves of the Chaco itself. Bolivian troops invaded in 1928; skirmishes continued until Paraguay launched a major offensive in 1932 and formally declared war in May 1933. Initially the larger and better-trained Bolivian army had success but in 1934 Paraguay gained the upper hand, capturing much Bolivian land. By 1935 both sides were weary of war, so agreed an armistice. See 15/6/1932.

10/5/1933. Paraguay formally declared war on Bolivia.

15/6/1932, The Chaco war broke out. Bolivian troops attacked Paraguay. The dispute had been exacerbated by the issue of a Paraguayan postage stamp bearing a map with the Chaco labelled as ‘Chaco Paraguayo’, along with the provocative words ‘Ha sido, es, y sera’(Has been, is, and will be). The war lasted until 1935, see 12/6/1935.

16/9/1929. Bolivia and Paraguay signed an agreement to end their 10 month border dispute.

15/8/1920, Manuel Gondra was inaugurated as President of Paraguay.

3/11/1912. Alfredo Stroessner, President of Paraguay, was born.

1/3/1870, President Lopez of Paraguay was killed.

For map of earlier territories held by Paraguay, see

1/5/1865. Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay formed a triple alliance against Paraguay. This war began when Paraguayan President Lopez tried to force a pro-Paraguayan President on the people of Uruguay. Brazil intervened in support of the legitimate candidate, and Lopez declared war on Brazil. He also declared war on Argentina, for refusing passage for his troops across its territory, and for good measure declared war on Uruguay too. A few months later Brazil had sunk the Paraguayan navy in the Parana River and by 1867 the alliance’s land forces under Argentine General Bartolome Mitre had penetrated deep into Paraguayan territory. By January 1869 the Paraguayan capital Asuncion lay in ruins and two thirds of the adult population of Paraguay, 300,000 people, were either dead or missing.

12/11/1864, Paraguay seized a Brazilian arms ship.

31/8/1864, President Francesco Lopez of Paraguay issued an ultimatum to Brazil not to interfere in Uruguay. In October 1864 Brazil invaded Paraguay.

10/9/1862, Carlos Lopez, dictator of Paraguay, died aged 75. He was succeeded by his 36-year-old son, Francisco Lopez.

17/7/1852, Argentina recognised the independence of Paraguay.

1842, Carlos Antonio Lopez became dictator, ruling until 1862.

20/9/1840, Jose Francia, dictator of Paraguay from 1814, died.

1814, Jose Gaspar Rodriguez Francia, ‘El Supremo’, came to power. Initially elected to serve three years, he obtained dictatorship for life. He was anti-Church, he ruled the country harshly, but free from corruption, until 1840. He was the first of three dictators.

14/5/1811. Paraguay proclaimed itself independent. It became a dictatorship, essentially isolated from the rest of the world.

1767, The Jesuits, who had arrived in Paraguay in 1588 to convert the Amerindians, were expelled.

1721, Paraguay achieved temporary independence from Spain as Jose de Antequera led a revolt. Spain regained control in 1731.

1617, Hernando Arias de Saavedra, Governor of Rio de la Plata province, split Paraguay off from Argentina.

1537, Asuncion was founded by the Spanish explorer, Juan de Salazar. It was established as a fort to enable further exploration of South America, in search of silver. The Guarani, a settled farming people, assisted the Spanish to settle, because the Spanish conquered the southern Chaco area, home to nomadic peoples who raided Guarani settlements.

1535, Paraguay was first settled by the Spanish.

1526, The Spanish first explored the upper reaches of the Paraguay River.


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