Information on conflicts (November 1988 - March 1989) between government and opposition leading to coup in February 1989; treatment of government employees in Asunción before and after 1989 coup, Paraguay [PRY3692]

The real motives that led to the early-February 1989 coup by General Andrés Rodríguez are not defined in the sources currently available to the IRBDC. One source, ["Paraguay's new general", in The Globe and Mail, 6 February 1989, p. A6.] however, reports two possible circumstances which may have prompted the coup. General Rodríguez could have belonged to a Colorado party faction which split from the ruling party, considering General Stroessner "too dictatorial". The other possibility was a rumored upcoming dismissal of General Rodríguez by General Stroessner, who would be succeeded by his son Gustavo (who is, in turn, Rodríguez's son-in-law). Gustavo Stroessner reportedly belonged to the "militant" faction of the Colorado party. ["Paraguayan rebellion feared as tanks on move", in The Globe and Mail, 3 February 1989, p. A1.] One of the two attachments (16 February 1989, p. 2) reports General Rodríguez's espoused motives for staging the coup.

Rodríguez's alleged concern for the Catholic Church may be linked to the harassment of the Catholic Church in Paraguay which resurfaced in late-1988, after a Colorado party leader described a bishop as "a drunk and a Marxist". [Latin American Weekly Report, 8 December 1988, p. 12.] The Archbishop of Paraguay excommunicated the offending politician, while the government repressed demonstrations related to the incident. [Ibid.] The power allotment of the Catholic radio was later reduced by the government, reducing its broadcasting capacity. [Latin American Weekly Report, 12 January 1989, p. 12.]

The ruling Colorado party reportedly suffered a major split in 1987 when "an orthodox faction known as the militants" gained the party's leadership and expelled "traditionalists" who favoured democratic reforms. ["Paraguayan rebellion feared as tanks on move"; Latin American Weekly Report, 16 February 1989, p. 2.] However, the rise of the militant faction within the Colorado party was reported to have caused confrontation at least since 1985. The militants were led by Sabino Montonaro, president of the Colorado party and Interior Minister. One report states that "open confrontation" occurred since the split. [ "Paraguayan rebellion...".]

References to the Authentic Radical Liberal Party's (Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico) role in the political conflicts preceding the February 1989 coup could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC. The party reportedly was the largest opposition group not officially recognized by the government, and led by Domingo Laino. [Ibid.] Domingo Laino demanded time after the coup to organize the opposition, while forming an opposition front called Acuerdo Nacional (National Accord). [Latin American Weekly Report, 2 March 1989, p. 12.]

Please find attached the following documents which report on the coup and political conditions before and after it:
-from the Latin American Weekly Report: page 2, 23 February 1989; pages 1-3, 16 February 1989; pages 2-3, 16 March 1989; page 12, 23 March 1989 and page 9, 27 April 1989;
-"Paraguay minus Stroessner", in The Economist, 6 May 1989, p. 42.

These attachments contain also the only references currently available to the IRBDC regarding the situation of civil servants during the requested timeframe. One states that membership in the Colorado party was virtually a prerequisite for having a job in the public service, while the latter makes a reference to "the grip of the ruling Colorado party [in] every public office, from presidency to schoolroom".