Colonial period. Inhabited by Indian tribes, the Paraguay was visited between 1521 and 1526 by the expedition led by the Spanish A. García, followed by that of S. Caboto (1526-32). In 1537 Asunción was founded, a Spanish stronghold against Portuguese expansion and a starting point for expeditions to conquer the southern regions of the American continent. The local populations, who had welcomed the Spaniards, were reduced to semi-slavery with the introduction of the encomienda. Included in the viceroyalty of Peru (1542), the Plata region was established in adelantazgo (1544), by virtue of which a private individual who conquered a territory at his own expense received in exchange the powers of governor and hereditary privileges. In 1591 the Plata region was established in gobernación and entrusted to H. de Arias Saavedra, who obtained from Madrid the division of the Paraguay from the region of Plata (1617). In 1585 the first Jesuits arrived in Plata and founded their province there in 1606, including territories that are now Argentine, Paraguayan, Uruguayan, Brazilian and Chilean. Between the middle of the century 17th and early 18th centuries over 100,000 Indians were organized on a permanent basis in missions (30 among the Guaraní, 7 in the Chaco), which came to constitute a sort of autonomous organization, the so-called «Jesuit State of Paraguay». This organization was based on reducciones, small nuclei governed by uniform laws, applied by indigenous officials under the direction of two religious. Economic life within each reducción it was founded on collective agriculture and crafts and everyone was obliged to work for the community and the Church. The economic prosperity, the high degree of autonomy and the protection of the Indians against the slave traders attracted the hostility of the Spanish and Portuguese authorities to the Jesuits. With the Treaty of Madrid (1750) seven reducciones they were transferred under Portuguese sovereignty: the Guaraní opposed them in arms, but were defeated. With the expulsion of the Society of Jesus from Spain and its possessions (1767), the indigenous population was enslaved or forced to take refuge in the forests. Deprived of precious metals, Paraguay remained economically underdeveloped, as well as subject to a rigid administrative dependence. In 1721 the governor José de Antequera took up arms against the colonial authorities; executed Antequera (1731), the rebellion of the comuneros it continued with Fernando Mompó de Zayas and was eradicated in 1735. With the establishment of the viceroyalty of the Rio della Plata (1776) all autonomy for the Paraguay disappeared; the capital Buenos Aires controlled Paraguayan exports on which it imposed heavy customs tariffs, and the situation did not improve when the region was constituted in the intendencia of the new viceroyalty (1782). The territories that had been ruled by the Jesuits until their expulsion (1767) had a similar status (1803).
Independence. According to Homosociety, the anti-Spanish revolution broke out in Buenos Aires in May 1810, the governor of the Paraguay, Bernardo de Velasco, summoned a cabildo abierto in Asunciónwho decided to recognize the sovereignty of the Spanish Regency Council and to maintain cordial relations with Buenos Aires, without however accepting its authority. After independence in 1811, a national congress entrusted power to a junta formed by the military PJ Caballero and F. Yegros and by the lawyer JG Rodríguez de Francia. In 1813 the Republic of the Paraguay was proclaimed, under the authority of the consuls Yegros and France; a year later France was appointed supreme dictator for five years and finally, in June 1816, perpetual dictator. Subjected the Spaniards to a regime of severe discrimination, France also eliminated the large Creole owners as a political force; some of them, who had organized a plot to depose him (1820), were discovered, put to death and stripped of their lands and slaves, which became part of the national heritage. All political activity banned, the circulation of books and newspapers banned, the Church stripped of its privileges, the Fr was kept in almost total isolation. With France dead (1840), power was entrusted to two consuls until a new Constitution was promulgated (1844), which attributed enormous powers to the president; one of the consuls, CA López, who governed with dictatorial methods until his death (1862) was elevated to this office. For border issues, relations with Brazil remained difficult, but above all with Argentina, which only after the fall of the dictator JM de Rosas recognized the independence of Paraguay and put an end to his isolation. With López dead, the presidency was assumed by his son Francisco Solano. Eager to affirm the role of Paraguay in the equilibrium of the Plata region, in response to the invasion of Uruguay by Brazilian troops (1864), he ordered his army to occupy the Brazilian region of Mato Grosso, then also declared war on Argentina. In 1865 Brazil, Argentina and the Uruguayan government signed the Triple Alliance Treaty to defeat López: the Paraguay’s war ended only with the death of the president (1870) and cost the country almost half of its population and territorial losses. After the promulgation of a new Constitution (1870), a phase of great political instability began; the Asociación nacional republicana (ANR, also known as Partido colorado), conservative and pro-Brazilian, managed to prevail over the pro-Argentine Liberal Partido and tried to revive the country’s disastrous economy by favoring production for foreign markets (leather, tobacco, mate,
The 20th century. The military insurrection of General B. Ferreira inaugurated the dominance of the liberals in 1904. The granting of incentives to free enterprise and foreign investment made it possible for the large estates to flourish again, benefiting above all from British, French and Argentine companies. The presidency of E. Schaerer (1912-16) was able to profit from the increased demand for Paraguayan products following the First World War. Under President E. Ayala (1924-28) a special legislation aimed to create a class of small owners and to favor the colonization of the peripheral regions; this project was carried out in particular in the Chaco Boreale region, for the possession of which a dispute with Bolivia had been going on for years; the interests of some US oil companies convinced of the existence of important fields in the disputed region were not unrelated to the contrast. In 1932 the hostilities began, which lasted for three years. The Paraguay was victorious but the price to pay was a growing influence of the military in the political life of the country, culminating in 1954 with the coup that brought General A. Stroessner to the government. With the help of the Partido Colorado, Stroessner maintained power for over thirty years, giving life to a bloody regime. The authoritarian traits of the regime did not diminish even after the approval of a new Constitution (1967). The repression and systematic violation of human rights practiced by the regime against opponents led, during the 1970s, to the US administration of Democrat J. Carter to reduce aid to the Paraguay; Stroessner therefore approached Brazil, in turn ruled by an authoritarian regime. The dictator was finally overthrown in 1989 by the coup led by General Andrés Rodríguez, who legalized parties and was elected president in 1989. Relying on the traditional alliance between the party, the armed forces and the bureaucracy, but paying greater attention to the demands of entrepreneurs and large owners, the new government continued its policy of wage freezes and refused to address the issue of land reform. From 1993, with the victory of JC Wasmosy, the government returned to civilians. In 1996 the internal struggle of the colorados resulted in the attempted coup of General L. Oviedo, commander-in-chief of the army, who later ran for the 1998 presidential elections thanks to the support of the armed forces and a large popular following ensured by his populist programs. of Wasmosy, Oviedo was later sentenced by a special military court to 10 years in prison for the failed coup attempt. The elections were however won by the colorados and the presidency went to R. Cubas-Grau, who immediately ordered the release of Oviedo. The release of Oviedo and, above all, the assassination of the vice president LM Argaña, whose principals were indicated in Cubas-Grau and in Oviedo itself, led 2/3 of the Congress to vote on the impeachment for the president (who fled to Brazil, while Oviedo was taking refuge in Argentina). The presidency was then assumed by the president of the Congress, the senator of the Partido colorado L. Gonzáles Macchi.
The 21st century. After a new coup attempt by the military loyal to Oviedo, in 2002 a sharp worsening of economic conditions triggered serious social unrest. In 2003 the new presidential elections were won by N. Duarte Frutos, from the Partido colorado, who formed a coalition government with a vast economic and social reform program. However, government action was heavily hampered by scandals, a high crime rate, and political opposition to the privatization plans. The victory in 2008 of the deconsecrated Catholic bishop and candidate of the center-left coalition Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC) F. Lugo ended the long line of presidents of the Partido Colorado.