Paraguayan Dictator Stroessner Dies in Exile, in Brazil

Alfredo Stroessner, the former Paraguayan dictator who fled to Brazil to escape charges of human right violations in his own country, died today in Brazilian capital BrasÀ­lia, at age 93.

He was being treated at the Santa Luzia hospital since July 29 where he had an intestinal hernia surgery and suffered from pneumonia after the operation. The hospital hasn’t released the cause of death yet. 

Veteran of the 1932 Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay, Stroessner became an Army general in 1954, at age 42. Soon after being promoted in the Army he led the military coup that overthrew then president Federico Chávez. He then through questionable maneuvers was able to be reelected president eight times in a row. 

Stroessner was charged with involvement in the Condor Operation, an undertaking in which South America’s military regimes from the 1970s, including Brazil, swapped information on their dissidents and political prisoners.

The operation is accused of killing more than 900 people and torturing thousands more. The Center of International Protection of Human Rights estimates that more than 300 Paraguayan political dissidents were killed by the Stroessner government between 1954 and 1989.

Stroessner moved to Brazil in 1989 as a political refugee. After Cuba’s Fidel Castro, his dictatorship was the longest in Latin America in the past century. He governed Paraguay for 35 years.

Although Stroessner had a very low profile, without any involvement in politics in his homeland in the close to two decades in which he lived in Brazil, the Paraguayan government tried several times, unsuccessfully, to extradite him. 

Afraid of being arrested the former strongman didn’t attend his wife’s funeral last February in Paraguay. His son, Gustavo Stroessner, an Air Force colonel, is also exiled in Brazil.

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