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Paraguay, popular resistance to the rise of the military (1936–1954)

Brian Turner and Christina Turner†

Subject History » Political History
Social History » Labor History

Place South America » Paraguay

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics army, labor movements, resistance, revolution, strikes

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01153.x


The Chaco War (between Paraguay and Bolivia) lasted from 1932 to 1935. Mobilization for the war and conscription of troops strengthened the national state at the expense of patron-client ties in both the rural and urban sectors. This experience with protracted modern warfare led by professional soldiers unleashed revolutionary forces in both Bolivia and Paraguay. In February 1936, liberal president Eusebio Ayala, elected in 1932, was overthrown by elements within the nationalist military and the Association of Ex-Combatants and replaced by war hero Colonel Rafael Franco. This is known as the Febrerista Revolution. There were several intellectual currents evident within the Franco regime which consisted of scholars as well as military men. The Febrerista regime lasted 18 months. During that time the reformist elements initiated a land redistribution program, expropriating some 68,325 hectares, including 20,000 from La Industria Paraguaya. The state's role in regulation of the economy increased. The reformist elements were sympathetic with organized labor and although there was very little labor action during the Chaco War, the Febrerista Revolution gave rise to popular pressure for social reform and fueled labor militancy after the war. Tactical differences between socialists and anarchists diminished, and together they formed a new unified labor confederation, the National Workers' ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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