A History of Paraguay
By Baruja, Paiva & Pinto
Chapter 10

The revolution of August 1904 was born as a popular movement but the liberal control rotten in feudal sectionalism, military coups and the civil war. The political instability was so extreme in the liberal era to the point where there were twenty-one governments in a period of thirty- six years. Since 1904 until 1922, Paraguay had fifteen presidents, all of the same party: the Liberal.

The liberals to disturb the army of the ones in control funded the Escuela Militar (Military School) and instituted the Law of Administrative Organization to order the national administration. The leader of such reforms was the future president Gondra.

Although there was an economic improvement, the country still didn’t know how to coexist in democracy which was inevitable to untie political passions to the roots of not being able to adapt the proclaimed ideals to the inherited reality. The party’s own unbalances of all revolutionary era favored the two mayor demands of the liberal party: the individualism like the motor of the political society instead of the traditional vulgarity and the self-critic as factor of the democratic process instead of populism. The exaggerations of these two factors lead to an anarchy. Towards the end of 1905 they declare president Gaona expulsed and take to government the general Benigno Ferreira in 1906.

With all, the situation was going good by the numbers: the commerce, the industries and the production were going well with the wind. Things were being exported more to Europe and it came to an agreement to join the national railroad with the argentine one to have access to Buenos Aires which was set concrete a few years later. All that progress didn’t avoid the fall of Ferreira in 1908 in hands of the new strong man, the colonel Albino Jara.

The colorados missing the power, made a pact with Ferreira in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There was a repressed colorado revolt in Laureles in 1909 making Jara even stronger in his political position. Gondra was president in 1910 but emitted a dialogue with the opposition to which he disliked the tenacious colonel which took care of overthrowing him the year after that to choose himself as president in front of a horrible congress.

1911, the year of the Centenario of the Independence of the mother country, surprised the Paraguayans in plain anarchy. There was barely margin for a tribute sense: “Canto Secular” a classic piece of the Paraguayans lyrics composed by Eloy Fariña Núñez.

So despotic, Jara managed from his power to make his own people to keep him out of the greater door of the López Palace. Three ephemeral presidents succeed him giving us the understanding of how turbulent that era was that it ended up with the death of Albino Jara after the combat of Paraguarai on May 11 of 1912 opening a door for one of the most reputed Paraguayan presidents: Eduardo Schaerer.

With Schaerer who became the first president in completing its mandate from Egusquiza, he established an energetic government and the public peace making the argentine and Brazilian squadron leave the national waters. WWI caused mayor Paraguayan exportations increasing the cattle yield with the creation of the first meat packing.

It happened in the presidency of Manuel Franco who kept on with the austere patron in the financial order. He outstand when promulgating an electoral law permitting the secret vote and the permanent license making the colorados to able to go back to the national congress with no necessity of pacts. Died suddenly in 1919, his vice, José P. Montero, should have confronted the outstanding crisis from Europe of postwar that made the meat packing to close and various bank institutions.

The political calm broke down when the radical liberals separated in favor factions of Schaerer and Gondra when he got to sit in the armchair of Don Carlos López. The mix-up started with the negative of the youth group party of the liberals to attack the headquarters of Schaerer pledging Gondra. Schaerer accused Guggiani, interior minister of incite the youth against him and asked for his resignation. Gondra quit presidency on October 29 of 1921 although the congress rejected the request. Gondra insisted this time by explaining that the military wasn’t demonstrating loyalty towards its presidential investiture.

Both fractions agreed on delegating the power to Eusebio Ayala, not long before they exploded the first combats. In May of 1922, Adolfo Chirife, picturesque colonel with marked favorable Prussian influence to Eduardo Schaerer was brought in arms with the support of the Colorado party starting with a long civil war that didn’t end until a “caudillo military” died of pneumonia in the middle of his campaign in 1923.

Gondra smiled before the opportune death of Chirife and smiled even more when Eligio Ayala assumed the power. The summit of the cotton industry and the reopening of the meat packaging was a great help in healing the wounds of the civil war and at the same time it increased the control prestige of Eligio Ayala who started the politics of administrative austerity and that excess overturned in the purchase of armor and sending military leaders (including Arturo Bray and Estigarribia) to Europe for the improvement of their military knowledge to prepare them for the future, since in those times, Bolivia made systematic penetration about the Paraguayan Chaco taking advantage of the 1922-23 civil war.

Eligio Ayala gave big political liberty: the “schaerist” and the “gondrist” joined by nomination to use the old name of the liberal party making the president govern his four years with no state of siege. He also invited the colorados to quit their abstinence exile by an electoral law. The old party of general B. Caballero returned finally by self decision in the parliamentary elections of 1927 and the presidential of 1928. In these last elections he came out the victorious José P. Guggiani also known as the one who proposed pacification and democratization of Paraguay.

The years of Guggiani’s presidency were of political stability and economic: respect of the law, liberty of work, jealous administration of the public property, stable currency, harmony between the capital and the work, political peace emerged of the institutional agreement of both parties, liberty of press, irreproachable elections, parliamentary opposition and independent tribunals.

The world wide crisis of 1929 affected the country but it didn’t do any harm. But what did affect it were the revolutions in almost all the countries in Latin America; the local politic felt the influence of the totalitarian interest towards the right.

The liberal politics of “laissez-faire” permitted the land owners to cultivate a feudal system in the farm, while the farmers had no land in property the foreign interest manipulated the economic riches of Paraguay. The liberals as well as the colorados were a profound fractionalized political oligarchy. The social conditions, always marginal in Paraguay, worsen during the Great Depression in the thirties. The country needed urgent reforms about labor conditions, public services and education. It was with that they started a nationalist reaction anti-liberal that would change drastically the direction of the Paraguayan history.

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