Méndez Fleitas, Epifanio (1917–1985)

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Méndez Fleitas, Epifanio (1917–1985)

Epifanio Méndez Fleitas (b. 1917; d. 22 November 1985), Paraguayan political leader. An early associate of President Federico Chaves (1949–1959), Méndez Fleitas first rose to a position of prominence when the latter came to power in 1949. As chief of police, Méndez Fleitas worked to defend Chaves's interests. He was named director of the Agrarian Reform Institute and later president of the Central Bank. At the same time, he rose rapidly within the "leftist" faction of the ruling Colorado Party, in part because of Chaves's patronage but also because of his own exceptional energy and forceful oratorical style.

Wishing to rise still further, Méndez Fleitas organized a plot with the help of General Alfredo Stroessner, head of the artillery section of the army. In early May 1954, the coup was carried out, but shortly thereafter, Stroessner exiled his fellow conspirator to Buenos Aires and went on to impose a dictatorship that lasted until 1989.

In the Argentine capital, Méndez Fleitas published polemical writings and composed folk music. He also established the Movimiento Popular Colorado (MOPOCO), an emigré group composed of Colorados who had turned against Stroessner. MOPOCO continued to be a major center of opposition to the dictator, though its founder encountered a loss of prestige when it was alleged in the 1970s that he had accepted money from the Central Intelligence Agency. Méndez Fleitas died in Buenos Aires.

See alsoParaguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party .


Charles J. Kolinski, Historical Dictionary of Paraguay (1973).

Paul H. Lewis, Paraguay under Stroessner (1980), passim.

Additional Bibliography

Méndez-Faith, Teresa. Antología del recuerdo: Méndez Fleitas en la memoria de su pueblo. Asunción, Paraguay: Editorial El Lector, 1995.

Seiferheld, Alfredo M., and José Luis de Tone, editors. El Asilo a Perón y la caída de Epifanio Méndez: Una visión documental norteamericana. Asunción, Paraguay: Editorial Histórica, 1988.

                                    Thomas L. Whigham

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Méndez Fleitas, Epifanio (1917–1985)

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