A History of Paraguay
By Baruja, Paiva & Pinto

Chapter 13

In many ways the Chaco War acted as a catalyst to unite the political disagreement between the workers and farmers which was a crucial element for the social revolution. After the truce in 1935 thousands of soldiers returned home and the regular army was left to patrol the front lines. These soldiers that faced the dangers were resent by the liberals who didn’t think they were capable of managing the country. They criticized that the army was so poor that there were times where the soldiers had to fight the enemies with nothing but a machetes.

After all they suffered de political difference were insignificant. In 1936 the government refused to grand pension to the veterans while it granted 1500 pesos of gold per year to Estigarribia. Colonel Franco being an active since 1932 rose up and became the head of the national rebels. The final spark of the rebellion burst when Franco was exile when he criticized Ayala. In 17 of February 1936, units from the army burst into the Presidential Palace and Ayala was forced to renounce therefore ending the thirty two years of liberal rule.

Outside Paraguay, the revolt of February ' 36 was interpreted like a paradox because it overthrew the politicians who had won the war. In contrast the soldiers, veterans and the students felt like this was the consequences of the liberal government. Promising a national and social revolution, the Revolucionario Febrerista (PRF) put Franco as president. The government system of Franco proved to be serious ad all about social justice. He distributed 200.000 hectares of land for 10000 farmers. It also gave the workers the right to strike and set a labor hour or eight. Perhaps the most lasting contribution of Franco affected the national conscience. In order to return and write history to erase seven decades of national shame with the power of coloradismo, Franc declared to Francisco Solano Lopez as a "national hero without unit" because he dared to face the foreign threats and died fighting. Once his body was found the government berried it by the side of his father Don Carlos Lopez in the "Panteón Nacional de Héroes" and later a monument was made in his honor in Lambare, the dominant hill of Asuncion.

The new government lacked a clear program in spite of the popular enthusiasm that saluted to the revolution of February ' 36. Franco gave speeches on a balcony like Mussolini style, but when he published his fascist Decreto-Ley N° 152 which promised ‘’totalitarian transformation’’ similar to the Europeans a protest erupted. The same people that rose up in 1936 started another protest putting Franco in serious political trouble. Although Franco’s new revolutionary party supported democracy, farmers, workers and students they fail to get the popular vote. They lost their support due to failure to maintain what they promised due to fear of interfering with Argentineans land owners. Very soon after 1937 the political power belonged to the liberals.

The army however did not have a unified opinion on the revolutionary group. Some people warned the Liberal president Felix Paiva that although the revolutionary groups were not in power but they were far from being quiet.

The peace treaty with Bolivia was sing in July 21 1938, which set the final limit of the Paraguayan military lines. Although it failed to set the river Parapiti as the border it helped Paraguay gain back a large amount of land. Later Bolivia backed up and gave up a few kilometers from the Paraguay River to the north of port Bahia Negra and the entire possession of Parapiti River. The reason they gave up was to prevent future disagreement and future reasons for revenge. They also used this to show that they were interested in showing brotherhood with their neighbors and to show that they are seeking peace.

In 1939 the liberals realized that if they wanted to stay in power they had to choose someone with high potential to be president. Eligio Ayala, a war hero had already died so they chose Estigarribia another war hero of the Chaco war.

Estigarribia was in the United States at that time as a special guest. He realized that he needed to adapt to many pf the revolutionary group way of thinking, to avoid a revolt and anarchy. In 1940 Estigarribia rose to power governing as a temporal dictator, but he promised that dictatorship was going to end as soon as a constitution was ready.

Estigarribia followed strictly his goals. He started a reform program that provided land for each Paraguayan family; he opened a University, balanced budget, and increased the national bank budget. In 1940 a constitution proposed by Estigarribia was ratified. This constitution was valid until 1967. The constitution promised a strong president and also a strong state which later opened doors for a later dictator government.

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