Paraguay - Country history and economic development

1500s. Paraguay is inhabited by Guaraní Indians before the Spaniards arrive.

1608. Spanish Jesuits take root in Paraguay after several failed colonization attempts. The Jesuits control reducciones (centers of religious conversion for the Guaraní Indians). These settlements are also centers of labor for agricultural production, manufacturing, and trade.

1767. Spanish landowners—envious of the military, political, and economic control of the Jesuits—expel the Jesuits to regain control of the area.

1776. Establishment of Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata by the Spanish.

1811. Paraguay revolts against Spain to become a republic.

1865-1870. War of the Triple Alliance (against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay) decimates Paraguay's male population.

1870. New constitution begins reconstruction after war, but dictatorial oppression continues.

1932-1935. Chaco War against Bolivia: Paraguay wins western territory.

1954. General Alfredo Stroessner becomes president and remains in power until 1989.

1968. Acary power plant begins operation and Paraguay's national power production increases 15-fold from 1970-1990.

1970s. Government encourages foreign investment through tax incentives.

1970s. Soybeans and cotton replace tannin, meat, yerba maté, and tobacco as primary agricultural exports.

1970s-1980s. Despite serious human rights violations under the Stroessner regime, the U.S. continues to provide military aid because of Cold War policy.

1973. Itaipu hydroelectric power plant construction begins (finished in 1982) with Brazilian cooperation.

1980s. Foreign loans accruing interest begin to severely burden the economy.

1987. Generalized System of Preferences (trade agreement with U.S.) suspended because of poor labor laws.

1989. General Andrés Rodríguez leads coup that overthrows the Stroessner regime. Rodríguez becomes president in a multi-candidate election and announces that democracy has come to Paraguay. He enacts sweeping reforms to implement a market economy.

EARLY 1990s. Labor unions begin to grow in numbers and in political influence.

1991. Constituent Assembly elected to draft new constitution.

1991. Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil sign Mercosur (a free trade agreement among the countries of the Southern Cone). Generalized System of Preferences reinstated between Paraguay and the United States.

1992. New constitution takes effect, making Paraguay a representative democracy. Government approves laws to encourage foreign investment and establish a stock market.

1993. Juan Carlos Wasmosy of the Colorado Party is elected as president. These elections are deemed fair and democratic by the world community.

1995. The Asuncion Stock Exchange, Bolsa de Valores, is established.

1997. Banking crisis strikes due to political corruption.

1998. Raúl Cubas Grau of the Colorado Party elected president in May.

1999. Vice president Luis María Argaña is assassinated in March and President Cubas, implicated, is forced out of office. Luis Gonzalez Macchi, the head of the senate, becomes president.

2000. Julio Cesar Franco of the Liberal Party is elected vice president. This is the Liberal Party's first major victory against the Colorado Party in 50 years.

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