Rodríguez, Andrés (1923–1997)

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Rodríguez, Andrés (1923–1997)

Andrés Rodríguez (b. 19 June 1923; d. 21 April 1997), Paraguayan president (1989–1993). Born in the small town of San Salvador de Guairá, Rodríguez entered the army at an early age. He participated in the 1947 civil war, but came into prominence only after the rise to power of his mentor, General Alfredo Stroessner, in 1954. Seven years later, Rodríguez was promoted to full colonel and given command of the Cavalry Division, after which he became a general and head of the First Army Corps.

Rodríguez prospered tremendously under the corrupt Stroessner dictatorship. Long the number-two man in the army, Rodríguez cemented his relationship with the president when his daughter Marta married Stroessner's youngest son. In turn, this loyalty was rewarded with many concessions. Rodríguez built up major interests in banking and currency exchange, flour milling, brewing, real estate, ranching, and construction—not to mention near-monopoly control of cigarette, liquor, and luxury car imports. By the late 1980s, his personal fortune was estimated at over $1 billion.

At this time, however, the Stroessner regime was visibly weakening. Fairly open arguments concerning who would succeed the old president broke out among his various henchmen, and Rodríguez decided not to wait any longer. On the night of 2 February 1989, he launched a coup d'état that toppled the thirty-five-year dictatorship. Rodríguez announced that the new government would abandon the old ways in favor of a political democracy. Much to the surprise of many, he did precisely that, freeing the press, permitting the return of exiles, removing the most corrupt and brutal of Stroessner's associates, even saddling a few with long prison terms. In May 1989, a presidential election—arguably the fairest ever held in Paraguay—placed Rodríguez in the presidential palace for a four-year term with 75 percent of the popular vote.

Skeptics still doubted his commitment to democracy, but Rodríguez's liberalization program was nonetheless applauded by the majority of Paraguayans.

See alsoParaguay: The Twentieth Century; Stroessner, Alfredo.


Paul H. Lewis, Paraguay Under Stroessner (1980), pp. 136-138.

Riordan Roett and Richard Scott Sacks, Paraguay: The Personalist Legacy (1991), pp. 1-3, 78-82, 131-134.

Additional Bibliography

Rivarola, Milda. Marzo Paraguayo: Una lección de democracia. Asunción, Paraguay: Ultima hora, 2001.

                                   Thomas L. Whigham

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Rodríguez, Andrés (1923–1997)