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Chaves, Federico (1882–1978)

Chaves, Federico (1882–1978)

Federico Chaves (b. 1882; d. 24 April 1978), Paraguayan political leader and president (1949–1954). The son of Portuguese immigrants, Federico Chaves spent his early life as a lawyer and judge in Asunción and other locales. His affiliation with the Asociación Nacional Republicana (or Partido Colorado) in the 1930s and 1940s brought him some national prominence, and by 1946, he was vice president of the party. In that year, the dictator Higínio Morínigo brought Chaves into the government as a concession to the Colorados. This coalition regime did not last, however, and in the 1947 civil war that followed, Chaves clarified his position as chief of the "democratic" wing of the party. By so doing, he had placed himself in opposition to the violent Guión Rojo faction, led by Juan Natalicio González. In 1948 a coup d'état gave Chaves the chance to ally himself with the new president, Felipe Molas López, with whom he purged the government of González followers.

This housecleaning paved the way for Chaves's own accession to the presidency in 1949. During his administration the Paraguayan economy was plagued by inflation, which Chaves sought to relieve through a close economic union with Perón's Argentina. At home, his policies were repressive, but his arbitrary use of police power failed to curb the opposition of former Guionistas and army officers, one of whom, General Alfredo Stroessner, launched a revolt in May 1954. After some fierce fighting, Chaves stepped down. A year later, Stroessner rewarded his predecessor's noninterference in the new government by making him ambassador to Paris. He died in Asunción.

See alsoParaguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party; Paraguay: The Twentieth Century.


Leo B. Lott, Venezuela and Paraguay: Political Modernity and Tradition in Conflict (1972).

Paul H. Lewis, Paraguay Under Stroessner (1980), esp. pp. 28-60.

Alfredo M. Seiferheld, comp., La caída de Federico Chaves: Una visión documental norteamericana (1987).

Riorden Roett and Richard S. Sacks, Paraguay: The Person-alist Legacy (1991), esp. pp. 51-54.

Additional Bibliography

Amaral, Raúl. Los presidentes del Paraguay (1844–1954): crónica política. Asunción: Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Sociológicos, 1994.

López Benítez, Adriano Abab. Historia política del Paraguay: 1940 a 2005. Asunción: Paraguay, 2005.

                                 Thomas L. Whigham

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