ASUNCION – A bill introduced in Congress calls for removing plaques honoring Gen. Alfredo Stroessner’s 1954-1989 regime from buildings and plazas across Paraguay, where the late dictator still has supporters more than 27 years after his ouster.
The Senate approved the bill on Nov. 3, Stroessner’s birthday and a date that many of his supporters remember as a joyful day.
The legislation, which will now be taken up by the lower house of Congress, would eliminate all plaques expressing “praise, flattery or adulation” for the dictator, Sen. Esperanza Martinez, one of the bill’s authors, told EFE.
Plaques removed from public places will be taken to the Museum of Memory in downtown Asuncion and replaced with new markers noting the “historic personalities, places and events that deserve to be remembered by citizens,” the legislation states.
The legislation is part of the process that started after the fall of the dictatorship and led to the renaming of Puerto Presidente Stroessner to Ciudad del Este, as well as the renaming of Plaza Stroessner in Asuncion’s San Pablo district to Plaza Carmen de Lara Castro in honor of an opponent of the regime, Martinez said.
Plaques praising the dictatorship, however, can still be found on public buildings in the capital, the senator said.
“Stroessner was a political figure who governed for many years in Paraguay. His authoritarianism penetrated society and that is why there are still sectors today that are nostalgic about the heavy hand of the military, the violence and control,” Martinez told EFE.
The Stroessner dictatorship, the longest in South America’s southern cone, is blamed for 425 disappearances, the arrests of nearly 20,000 people, many of whom were tortured, and the forced exile of 20,814 others, the Paraguayan Truth and Justice Commission concluded.
The Colorado Party, which ruled the country under the Stroessner regime and is the governing party today, has never engaged in “self-criticism or apologized publicly to society,” Martinez said.
Stroessner died in Brasilia on Aug. 16, 2006, at the age of 93 after living in exile for 17 years.
The son of a German immigrant from the Bavarian town of Hoff and a Paraguayan peasant woman, Stroessner was born Dec. 3, 1912, in the city of Encarnacion, on the shores of the Parana River, near the border with Argentina.
He was 41 when he seized power in 1954, although he had already been a player on the Paraguayan political scene for some time.
Stroessner was ousted in a Feb. 3, 1989, by Gen. Andres Rodriguez, who was related to the dictator by marriage.