Paraguay: Land Of Struggle & Courage

Football & Dictatorship

Gerardo Lara – FLAF Americas

More than 200 years of resistance history supports the heroic people of Paraguay who achieved independence thanks to the sacrifice and unity of all those who defended the beautiful Guaraní land.

Freedom was the desire of those who sought at all costs to defend their history, identity and descent so that it would not be exterminated. Libertad (Freedom) is also the name of one of the most important clubs in that country, nicknamed “El Gumarelo”. This characteristic club was founded on July 30, 1905 thanks to the efforts of young people and students who defined the club as an Athletic Association of physical exercises, whose purposes would be: to promote the game of football, as well as the vigorous development of youth.

Life, as well as football is sometimes ironic, the criminal dictator Alfredo Stroessner was a fan of the Libertad club, and if there is a period in the history of this nation that has a complete absence of it, of freedom, it is during his disastrous period in power, considered the longest in South America, from 1954 to 1989, about 35 years.

Paraguay before the arrival of Stroessner suffered the economic, political and social consequences of the civil war in 1947, which is considered the most violent in the history of this country. Persecution, torture, uprisings and disappearances kept law and order under the supervision of the United States, a direct attack against anyone who had another vision or political ideal.

Paraguay was the first social laboratory in the framework of a worldwide struggle, they were the first steps of what would become Operation Condor, which was created to eliminate so many left-wing activists throughout our American continent.

The fate of those who dared to confront military criminals was uncertain. The arrival of Stroessner to power is not a coincidence in relation to the systematic actions of the right, a coup on May 4, 1954 gave power to the armed forces to extend their mandate for more than 34 years.

An internal conflict and fight for control will give us another historical episode, and if it is worth calling it once again ironic. A henchman of Stroessner, General Andrés Rodríguez, gave a coup between February 2 and 3, 1989, the dictator lost all power. Paraguay began then with a hard and full of obstacles transition to a democracy.

The mark left by the dictatorship is even present in the game that we all love, in an essential element such as the pitch, the stadium. Stroessner saw in football an ally to win the sympathy of those who despised him and never elected him as their leader. A stadium of a club that belongs to the fourth division of Paraguay, Club Deportivo Pinozá bears his name, surely the 20,000 tortured or disappeared victims under his dictatorship could fill those stands.