The defense, which is based on general military duty with an initial service of twelve months (fleet 24 months), comprises 10,300 men and is organized into 15 reduced infantry regiments, 28 patrol boats, four reduced naval infantry battalions and ten combat aircraft. The reserves amount to 164,500 men and semi-military security forces to 15,000 men. The material is semi-modern and of Western origin.
Paraguay participates in a number of UN peacekeeping operations. Defense costs have decreased from 1.4 to 0.7% of GDP in 1996-2005. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that PRY stands for Paraguay.
The 10-year sentence for Lino Oviedo sentenced by a military court in April 98 triggered a powerful stream of rumors of a coup d’etat and led to the postponement of the presidential election. The political uncertainty intensified the country’s economic crisis, which among other things. expressed by the fact that the country’s currency, Guaraní, over a four-month period, fell 35% against the US dollar.
With Oviedo in prison in May, the presidential election gave 46.8% of the votes to the Colorado Party president/vice-president couple Raúl Cubas/Luis María Argaña versus 38.2% to the Democratic Alliances Laíno/Filizzola. One of the new president’s first actions was the release of Oviedo. In December, the Supreme Court declared in a ruling that the release of the General was contrary to the Constitution and that he should be jailed again. This triggered a streak of clashes between supporters and opponents of the Cuban government.
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Clashes between state power institutions increased and in March 1999 Parliament decided to initiate a political trial against the president. But on March 23, unknown uniformed perpetrators murdered Vice President Argaña. After almost a week of clashes in Asuncion’s streets and new victims, Cubas resigned and fled to Brazil, while Lino Oviedo obtained a free pass to flee to Argentina. On March 28, President Luis González Macchi assumed office, forming a new government made up of members from both Colorados and the opposition. According to the Constitution, new elections were to be printed within 6 months, but in a ruling, the Supreme Court declared that González Macchi could remain in office for the entire period corresponding to his predecessor’s. It allowed him to continue as president until 2003.
The new president quickly faced a wave of strikes and protests from workers, farmers and businessmen due to his economic policies. At the same time, the unions which organized the employees of the state apparatus carried out a strong campaign against announced privatizations of the country’s telephone and electricity services. That made González Macchi promise that he was willing to enter into agreements with all sectors to ensure the continued development of reforms. At the same time, he declared that if he suffered defeat as head of state it would be a defeat “for the entire political leadership class in Paraguay”.
Social tensions worsened further in March 2000 as groups of cattle owners staged a series of demonstrations in the capital demanding increased state support, better credits and higher prices for their products. In the country’s northern city of Santa Rosa, some cattle owners were killed and others severely injured following clashes between them and police.
In August, elections were held to fill the seat after the assassinated Vice President Argaña. The chairman of the Liberal Party, Julio César Franco, was elected, thus becoming the first opposition candidate to have been elected in 53 years.
In the spring of 2003, González Macchi was charged with corruption and misconduct, but eventually escaped to appear before a state court. In the April election that year, Colorado Party candidate Nicanor Duarte Frutos was elected with 37% of the vote against former Liberal Vice President César Franco, who had to settle for 24%.
When González Macchi resigned from the presidential office in August, he was made available to the country’s judiciary, which banned him from leaving the country and announced that he would be put on trial for violating the constitution. In November, 20 charges of violation of the constitution, criminal association and money laundering were made against 6 members of the Supreme Court.
In July 2004, more than 420 died and hundreds were injured in a fire in the Ikuá Bolaños department store in Asunción. President Frutos declared 3 days of mourning. Acc. the police were triggered by a gas bottle that exploded in a kitchen in the department store. Units from the military and around 1,000 police officers were deployed in the rescue work with the fire department, but police were later able to confirm that the department store had not provided adequate emergency exits.
According to the chief of Paraguay police, several witnesses had observed how the doors to the center were locked and that the emergency exits had been locked. One of the guards at the center could later reveal that the order to close the doors had been given by the owner, Juan Pío Paiva and his son to prevent possible looting.
The owner of the department store was subsequently charged with murder by the state attorney. Several countries, including Uruguay, Chile, France, the United States and Spain, sent assistance to Asunción, and the pope and several heads of state sent their condolences.