Paraguay. On June 29, the former Army Chief and General Lino Oviedo voluntarily returned from his five-year exile in Argentina and Brazil. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in March 1999 for a military uprising against the government in April 1996, and is also charged with lying behind the assassination of Vice President Luis María Argaña in 1999. His return was surrounded by a major security dispute because the authorities feared a riot in solidarity with Oviedo from his followers, but nothing happened.
The issue of land reform was hot during the year. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Paraguay is 7,132,549 people in 2020. Farmer organizations, which represent the 30% of the population who do not own any land, have increased the occupations of unused land which they claim amount to an area of 100,000 hectares. In January, actions in the province of Caaguazú led to clashes with police, where two people were killed and eight injured. On September 24, the farmer’s umbrella organization then agreed with the government to accept a proposal for the immediate distribution of 13,000 hectares of land to landless farmers in exchange for an end to the land occupations initiated during the year. A week later, a land ownership tax was also introduced, which is estimated to bring in up to $ 125 million to be used for land reform. But some farmer organizations instead increased the occupations in December. According to abbreviationfinder, PY stands for Paraguay in text.
Population, society and rights
Paraguay, a country with a low population density, is also the one with the highest percentage of rural population of South America and the most unequal distribution of land: 86% of arable land is in the hands of just over 2% of the population. It is no coincidence, therefore, that politics has often linked the possibility of economic and social development of the country to the debate on agrarian reform and the question of land redistribution. However, no government has concretely addressed the problem. The absence of effective reforms in recent decades has kept around 25% of the population, both rural and urban, below the poverty line. The floods of June 2014 caused extensive damage to the poorest sections of the population (around 25,000 families), mainly due to poor urban planning in the suburbs and countryside.
As for the ethnic profile, the majority of the population is made up of the mestizos (95%), who descend from the union between the Spanish conquistadors and the indigenous Amerindians; the indigenous people, belonging to 16 distinct groups, are about 1.6% of the population and constitute the poorest segment of the country. Many Paraguayans have decided to leave the country due to a lack of work. It is estimated that more than 600,000 people (one tenth of the total) have emigrated to Argentina, while many others have chosen Europe: in Spain alone there are about 90,000. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic (about 90%), but the peculiar presence of the Mennonite church, the most numerous among the Anabaptist churches, should be noted.
In terms of governance, Paraguay’s biggest problem appears to be corruption. This, despite Lugo’s attempt at reform, is accompanied by the lack of independence of the judiciary, subject to the political power and, in particular, to the wishes of the Partido Colorado.
Asunción, the capital of Paraguay; 523,200 residents (2018), with suburbs 2. 3 million. Asuncion, Paraguay’s only major city, completely dominates the country’s social, cultural and economic life and is further the center of education and communication. Foreign transport is mainly via Argentina (road connection via bridge over the Paraguay River; rail via Encarnación in southeast Paraguay). A large part of the country’s exports (wood, cotton, soybeans, etc.) are shipped by riverboats from the port of Asuncion. Asuncion has a diverse industry, partly based on the region’s agricultural products.
The city was founded in 1537 (beginning with Marie Ascension Day, hence the name – Spanish Asuncion means ‘Ascension’). It was once the center of Spanish colonial politics in eastern South America, until it was overrun by Buenos Aires in the 17th century. In 1811, Asuncion became the capital of the then-formed Paraguay. The city has beautiful remains of Spanish colonial architecture.