Paraguayan Civil War (1947)
|Paraguayan Civil War|
|Part of the Cold War|
|Commanders and leaders|
In 1940 President Higinio Morínigo suspended the constitution and banned political parties. Resistance to his rule took the form of general strikes and student riots. In 1946 Morínigo legalized political activity and formed a cabinet with the Febrerista Revolutionary Concentration and the Colorado Party. The Febreristas resigned from the coalition on January 11, 1947, angry that Morínigo seemed to be favoring the Colorados.
The Febreristas made common cause with the Liberal Party and the Paraguayan Communist Party. Former Paraguayan president and founder of the Febrerista Party Rafael Franco led a rebellion that mushroomed into a civil war as the Paraguayan armed forces, which had previously remained loyal, split.
On the rebels' side were all the political parties except the Colorados, most of the bankers and administrators and 80% of military officers. Out of 11 army divisions, four joined the rebels: on March 8 the two infantry divisions at Concepcion rebelled, joined by the two Chaco infantry divisions a few days later.
On the government's side were the Colorados, three cavalry divisions at Campo Grande; three Asunción divisions (infantry, signallers and engineers) and the artillery division from Paraguari equipped with World War II American weapons, specifically M1 Garand rifles and American-supplied captured weapons such as the German MP 40 submachine gun, giving the Colorados superior firepower. Most importantly, Argentina under Juan Perón gave vital support to the government without which they might well have fallen.
On April 27 the navy joined the rebellion and shelled Asunción; they were fought off by the artillery division that had come from Paraguarí, commanded by Gen. Alfredo Stroessner. The largest gunboats of the fleet, Paraguay and Humaita, were seized by the rebels in Buenos Aires while they were undergoing repairs.
Morínigo fought back and eventually gained the upper hand, and had won back control by August 1947. A third of the population had fled.