Andrés Rodríguez (politician)

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Andrés Rodríguez
Andrés Rodríguez Pedotti.png
43rd President of Paraguay
In office
February 3, 1989 – August 15, 1993
Provisional until 15 May 1989
Preceded byAlfredo Stroessner
Succeeded byJuan Carlos Wasmosy
Personal details
Born
Andrés Rodríguez Pedotti

(1923-06-19)June 19, 1923
Borja, Departamento Guairá
DiedApril 21, 1997(1997-04-21) (aged 73)
New York City, U.S.
NationalityParaguayan
Political partyColorado Party
Military service
Branch/serviceParaguayan Army
Years of service1946–1993
RankLieutenant General

Andrés Rodríguez Pedotti (June 19, 1923 – April 21, 1997) was the President of Paraguay from February 3, 1989, to August 15, 1993. He assumed the presidency in a coup d'état against 35-year dictator Alfredo Stroessner.

1989 coup d'état[edit]

Rodríguez had been Alfredo Stroessner's closest confidant for 35 years. The two became so close that Rodríguez' daughter married Stroessner's elder son.[1] Under Stroessner's rule, Rodríguez became one of the richest men in Paraguay. Despite only earning the equivalent of $500 per month, he owned the nation's largest brewery, a chain of currency exchanges, an import-export company, a copper wire company, and several ranches.[2]

However, relations between the two grew increasingly strained in the late 1980s. As the decade wore on, Rodríguez cultivated ties with the "traditionalists" in the long-dominant Colorado Party. This element of the party had supported Stroessner throughout his three-decade rule, but had come to favor a more humane way of governing. Matters came to a head in January 1989, when Stroessner relieved several generals of their commands and replaced them with men thought to be unquestionably loyal to him. Later that month, in what was viewed as a direct strike at Rodríguez, Stroessner closed all of the country's currency exchanges. On February 2, Stroessner summoned his former ally and gave him an ultimatum—either accept appointment in the less important position of defense minister or retire.[3] It was reported that Rodríguez avoided the reunion (and attempted to quell rumors of him planning a coup) by faking a leg injury, going as far as having a fake cast put on one of his legs.[4]

Rodríguez gave his answer on the night of February 3 when he launched a violent coup. Rebel troops and tanks surrounded the headquarters of the Presidential Guard in Asunción (where Stroessner had sought refuge). The coup had the backing of much of the Roman Catholic Church and of the United States, who no longer required Stroessner as an ally in the Cold War. With this support, the coup quickly succeeded, with Stroessner resigning only hours after hostilities began. However, some 500 soldiers on both sides are believed to have died as a consequence of Stroessner's capture. He was released and fled into exile a few days later, eventually taking refuge in Brazil.[5]

A couple of weeks following the coup, former interior minister Edgar Ynsfran, a former Stroessner ally who now sided with Rodríguez, told reporters that Rodríguez had begun planning the coup toward the end of December 1988.[3]

Presidency[edit]

Upon taking office, Rodríguez canceled most of Stroessner's most repressive measures, which came as a surprise given his previous closeness to Stroessner.[2] He abolished the death penalty, freed political prisoners, and tried to imprison some leading members of the Stroessner government. He formally canceled the state of siege that had been in place for virtually all of Stroessner's rule; while it had nominally been repealed in 1987, its substance had remained in place in the form of draconian security laws and close restrictions on press freedom (opposition leaders had been arrested, and Stroessner had been the only candidate who had been allowed to campaign unmolested in the 1988 elections). He also welcomed back several longtime exiles.

Over the course of the following week, the military was purged of Stroessner's loyalists, and the commanders of the six rebellious army divisions were promoted to replace them.[3]

As provisional president, Rodríguez dissolved Congress on February 9 under a provision in the 1967 constitution that allowed the president to dissolve the legislature if he felt it had acted in a manner that distorted the constitutional separation of powers. He issued a decree setting new elections in May, and announced that all non-Communist parties would be allowed to compete. This was a remarkable turn in a country where the opposition had been barely tolerated for much of its history, particularly during Stroessner's rule. Indeed, at the time of the coup, the country had only known two years of pluralism in its entire history. A presidential election for the balance of Stroessner's term was also held in May, since the constitution required new elections to fill out the term of a president who resigned less than two years into his term. Rodríguez ran as the Colorado candidate and was elected with 76 percent of the vote in what was the closest thing the country had seen to a free and fair election up to that time.[6]

Soon after the ouster of Stroessner, the Rodríguez government was contacted by representatives of the People's Republic of China, inviting Paraguay to end its long-standing diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and to recognize PRC instead. However, Rodríguez accepted the arguments of the Taiwanese ambassador Wang Sheng that continuing the relationship with ROC, and thus keeping Taiwan's development assistance and access to Taiwan's markets, would be more advantageous for Paraguay.[7]

End of rule and death[edit]

On June 20, 1992; Paraguay adopted a new constitution. It limited the president to a single five-year term, with no possibility of reelection. The ban on reelection retroactively applied to Rodríguez, even though he had promised that he would not run for a full term in 1993. Rodríguez called this provision evidence of a lack of confidence in his word, and boycotted the inauguration ceremony.[8] Fears of a coup were only allayed when he signed the new constitution into law on June 22. He stepped down as president on August 15, 1993—the first Paraguayan president in decades to leave office at the end of his term. He was succeeded by Juan Carlos Wasmosy, who like Rodríguez was a member of the Colorado Party.

Rodríguez died in New York City in 1997 after a long battle with cancer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tessieri, Enrique (5 June 2008). "La sombra de los Stroessner" [The shadow of the Stroessners]. El País (in Spanish). Madrid.
  2. ^ a b Calvin Sims (April 22, 1997). "Andres Rodriguez Dies at 72; Overthrew Paraguay Dictator". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c Paraguay: A country study (Dannin M. Hanratty and Sandra W. Meditz, eds.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 1988). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "El falso yeso de Rodríguez y otras anécdotas del golpe" [Rodriguez's fake cast and other anecdotes of the coup]. Última Hora (in Spanish). 3 February 2019.
  5. ^ Bernstein, Adam (August 17, 2006). "Alfredo Stroessner; Paraguayan Dictator". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Thomas C. Bruneau. "Constitutional Development". Paraguay: A country study (Dannin M. Hanratty and Sandra W. Meditz, eds.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 1988). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ Marks, Thomas A. (199). Counterrevolution in China: Wang Sheng and the Kuomintang. London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-4700-4. Partial view on Google Books. pp 289. 293.
  8. ^ Cesar Insfran (June 20, 1992). "Paraguay celebrates new constitution". United Press International.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alfredo Stroessner
President of Paraguay
1989–1993
Succeeded by
Juan Carlos Wasmosy