Andrés Rodríguez (politician)
|47th President of Paraguay|
February 3, 1989 – August 15, 1993
Provisional until 1 May 1989
|Preceded by||Alfredo Stroessner|
|Succeeded by||Juan Carlos Wasmosy|
June 19, 1923|
Borja, Departamento Guairá
|Died||April 21, 1997
New York City
|Years of service||1946–1993|
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 Alfredo Stroessner.
1989 coup d'état
Rodríguez had been Stroessner's closest confidant for 35 years. The two became so close that Rodríguez' daughter married Stroessner's elder son. 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, Stroessner closed all of the country's currency exchanges. This appeared to be a direct strike at Rodríguez, who ran one of the largest exchange houses in the nation. 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.
Rodríguez gave his answer a few hours later by launching a violent coup. On the night of February 3, rebel troops and tanks surrounded the headquarters of the Presidential Guard in Asuncion (where Stroessner had sought refuge) with 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. Over the course of the following week, the military was purged of Stroessner' loyalists, and the commanders of the 6 rebellious army divisions were promoted to replace them. Because Stroessner had resigned, Rodríguez, took the constitutionally mandated post of provisional president, dissolving the National Congress on February 9, and calling for new legislative elections in May, with the intent of cleaning out the Stroessner' militants. He also called for a presidential election on May 1. As per the Constitution of 1967, the newly-elected president would only serve out the remaining term of the previous president.
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.
Upon taking office, Rodríguez canceled most of Stroessner's most repressive measures. He abolished the death penalty and tried to imprison some leading members of the Stroessner government. He also 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 (opposition leaders had been arrested, and Stroessner had been the only candidate who had been allowed to campaign unmolested in the 1988 elections).
As provisional president, Rodríguez dissolved Congress 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, and announced new elections for that May. As part of his decree dissolving the legislature, he announced that all non-Communist parties would be allowed to compete in elections due for that May—a remarkable turn since the opposition had been barely tolerated for most of Stroessner's rule. 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 74 percent of the vote in what was the closest thing the country had seen to a free and fair election up to that time.
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.
End of rule and death
In 1992, Paraguay adopted a new constitution. It limited the presidency to a single five-year term. The term limitation applied to Rodríguez, even though he had promised on his word of honor as a soldier that he would not run for a full term in 1993. 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.
- 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.
- Alfredo Stroessner; Paraguayan Dictator, Washington Post, Adam Bernstein, August 17, 2006
- 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.
- Marks, Thomas A., Counterrevolution in China: Wang Sheng and the Kuomintang, Frank Cass (London: 1998), ISBN 0-7146-4700-4. Partial view on Google Books. pp 289. 293.
- Biography by CIDOB
- Drugs, Law enforcement and Foreign Relations John Kerry's 1988 committee on foreign relations report (about the drug trade).
|President of Paraguay
Juan Carlos Wasmosy