Country Listing

Paraguay Table of Contents



Government: Central government divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judiciary. Under provisions of Constitution of 1967, chief executive is president of the republic, elected by popular vote for five-year term. Within twenty-four hours of president's resignation, death, or disability, the legislature and an advisory body, the Council of State, designate a provisional president. If at least two years of term have elapsed, provisional president serves out full term. If fewer than two years have elapsed, elections are to be held within ninety days. Legislature consists of Senate with at least thirty members and Chamber of Deputies with at least sixty members, plus alternates. Members popularly elected for five-year terms that run concurrently with presidential term. Highest court in judiciary is Supreme Court of Justice made up of at least five members who serve five-year terms after nomination by president and ratification by legislature. Lower courts include appellate courts, courts of first instance, justice of the peace courts, and military courts. Central government exerts complete control over local administration, which consists of nineteen departments.

Politics: On February 3, 1989, Major General Andrés Rodríguez named provisional president after leading military coup against President Alfredo Stroessner Mattiauda. Rodríguez easily won a presidential election held on May 1, 1989. Military's action consistent with Paraguay's authoritarian style of politics, a tradition that began with dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (ruled 1814-40) and continued in an unbroken line to Stroessner himself, who came to power in a 1954 coup. As candidate of the National Republican Association-Colorado Party (Asociación Nacional Republicana-Partido Colorado), Stroessner elected to eight consecutive terms as country's president in elections that observers characterized as fraudulent. Beginning in mid-1980s, Colorado Party broke into militant and traditionalist factions. Stroessner sided with militants and purged traditionalists from government. Rodríguez, an ally of traditionalists, expected to purge militants. In contrast to Stroessner, Rodríguez expected to allow all noncommunist opposition parties to compete in May 1989 elections. None, however, had an organization comparable to Colorado Party.

International Relations: Traditionally dominated by dependence on Argentina to ensure access to the port of Buenos Aires. Stroessner changed course of Paraguayan foreign policy and built close relations with Brazil. Although ties not as close since onset of democratization in Brazil in mid-1980s, massive scale of Brazilian investment in Paraguay precludes significant change in relations. Relations with United States strained since early 1980s because of United States concerns over Paraguayan corruption, narcotics trafficking, and human rights abuses.

International Agreements and Memberships: Party to InterAmerican Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) and Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty). Also a member of Organization of American States, United Nations and its specialized agencies, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank, and Latin American Integration Association.

Data as of December 1988