Alfredo Stroessner
By David Cheng

Alfredo Stroessner (Strössner or Strößner) Matiauda was born in November 3rd, 1912 at Encarnacion. Stroessner’s father, Hugo Stroessner emigrated from Germany to Paraguay early in his years around 1895, and met Stroessner’s mother, a Paraguayan national, name Heriberta Matiauda. The two decided to marry and gave birth to their son, which they named him Alfredo Stroessner. What neither the two of them will ever imagine is what their son will later achieved in the future and most importantly the role he played in Paraguay history.

At the age of only 17, Stroessner joined the Paraguayan army and served as a lieutenant during the Chaco War. It was during the Chaco War that young Stroessner gained experience of military skills from combat to military strategies. Years later he arose steadily in rank to becoming the youngest brigadier general in so far South America even until today.

In the year 1954, he was selected to Divisions general where he later drove Federico Chavez out of power with a group of Stroessner’s personal military coup. He stayed in power for around 35 years and was reelected 8 consecutive times for the term of presidency from the year 1958 to his last term on 1988 before he was exiled from Paraguay where he then fled to Brazil which is believed where he currently lives right now. Stroessner’s rule would put him right beside Fidel Castro as the two most recent decade’s powerful leaders in Latin America history.

Stroessner was a very strict and energetic leader. He reports to his office early in the morning, and during his rule, unlike most other leaders, he never did take any vacations during his term of presidency. Paraguay under his rule, had improved greatly both in economy and politically. No communist countries had set embassies of its nation in Paraguay when he was in power. He also made numerous visits to other countries such as Japan, France, and also several visits to both Germany and the United States.
Although Stroessner was known to be a strict ruler, he had become more tolerant over the years and slowly began to listen to others ideas. But despite of that, his regime was still held responsible for various kidnappings, tortures, and wide spread of corruption. His relationship with the Roman Catholic Church in Paraguay was also poor; he was blamed for numerous negative actions towards the church. Some even joke around that Stroessner had the “power” all over the corners of Paraguay, but except the Church area.

But regardless of all the negatives, he had put in several positive acts in the area of economy. The most known being the construction and building of the world’s biggest hydroelectric power plant, with this advantage, Paraguay exports electricity to numerous countries, developed the country’s economy. Stroessner was also known for planning out a lot of other major projects, like constructing highway systems in the late 1900’s. He would also give out certain amount of land to those who had chosen to join in the military and have completed the services. As a result, estimate of 10,000 of men joined in the military under his command.

Stroessner was forced to abdicate during his term by a group of coup d'état led by General Andres Rodriguez at the year 1989, and fled to Brazil. It is believed that he is still currently living there after his exile. The eastern city was named Puerto Flor de Lis before his reign. But during his regime, it was named Puerto Presidente Stroessner in his honor, but was later changed in the year 1989 to Ciudad Del Este.

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