The Specter of Stroessner’s Dictatorship Still Haunts Paraguay

The Specter of Stroessner’s Dictatorship Still Haunts Paraguay
A man holds up a placard showing people who went missing during Paraguay’s military dictatorship at a march commemorating 30 years of democracy, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Feb. 2, 2019 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

On Dec. 22, 1992, Martin Almada, a lawyer and human rights activist, and Jose Agustin Fernandez, a judge, were tipped off to a cache of thousands of documents that were being stored in a police station in Lambare, Paraguay. The files documented the systematic abuses that thousands of Paraguayans, including Almada, had suffered at the hands of the secret police during the long dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner from 1954 to 1989.  

The files also contained references to “Operation Condor,” a “network of transnational repressioninstituted by the U.S.-backed governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay—later joined by Brazil, Ecuador and Peru—during the Cold War. Through the plan’s structured coordination, these governments cooperated with each other to systematically detain, torture and forcibly disappear left-leaning intellectuals, civic activists, anti-government critics and many others deemed “subversive” by the state.

The discovery of the “Archives of Terror,” as the documents became known, marked a turning point for Almada, who could finally prove the torture and ill treatment he had endured during his detention in Paraguay from 1974 to 1977. But they also furnished irrefutable evidence that the U.S.-backed “Operation Condor” had actually existed, with the documents providing a glimpse of its full scale.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.