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Alfredo Stroessner

Stroessner, Alfredo (älfrāˈħō shtrsˈnər) [key], 1912–2006, president and dictator of Paraguay (1954–89). Of a German Paraguayan family, he was commissioned an officer (1932) and fought in the Chaco War (1932–35). Named commander in chief of the armed forces (1951), he engineered the coup (1954) that toppled Federico Chávez and became president that same year. Retaining command of the armed forces, he suppressed all opposition, and turned Paraguay into a refuge for Nazi war criminals. He was "reelected" eight consecutive times (1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988) making his rule the longest in 20th-century Latin American history. With Brazil, he built the Itaipú Dam on the Paraná River; its power plant, the world's largest hydroelectric station, dramatically increasing export revenues through the sale of electricity. Though essentially authoritarian, he gradually permitted opposition political activity. He was overthrown in a military coup (1989) and spent the rest of his life in exile in Brazil.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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