Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Paraguay- History

After the initial encounter between the Europeans and the Gaurani indians, 70 years of peaceful co existence passed by. King Phillip II, the Spanish king, granted a charter to the Jesuit Priests to enter a region that was still barely touched, the Province of Guaira, for the purpose of the conversion of the Indians to the Catholic Church.

The Jesuits began teaching agriculture and eventually 200,000 Guarani indians were working on these projects. Formerly, the Guarani indians had been nomadic in nature but were now staying on farms. These indians were treated fairly well and this co existence lasted for 150 years during which time the indians were educated. At the same time, there were other Spanish colonies that were most assuredly taking advantage of the indians and using them for slave labor.

It is notable that the Jesuits fought against this abusive treatment of the Indians but in 1767, King Charles III of Spain, under influence of the Spanish colonists, dissolved the Jesuit grants in a rapid manner which led to much turmoil among the indians who had by now lived an agricultural life for nearly 200 years. This obviously led to wars and revolutions. A time marked by violence and upheaval.

Thus began the time of dictatorships in Paraguay. The dictator Antonio Lopez did manage to provide stability to the country and built schools, founded a newspaper and encouraged immigration, especially of Europeans with technological knowledge of value to the country. He also set up a strong army. He was followed by his son, Fransisco Lopez.

Fransisco's father had impressed upon him the need for diplomacy and to settle dispute by the pen or political means whenever possible, but in 1864, the young President launched a war. This is known as the War of the Triple Alliance and is one of the bloodiest wars to have ever been fought at any time on American soil.

The large, powerful Army of Paraguay ended the war with only 480 soldiers remaining alive. The President was one of the last to die. At the beginning of the war, the population of Paraguay was 1,377,000. At the end of the war only 6000 men remained alive and only 220,000 women and children survived. The Paraguayan women were often found fighting alongside their husbands and sons on the battle field. The infamous red headed mistress of the President also took to the battle field and buried him with her own hands upon his death.

Up to this time Paraguay had been one of the most prosperous South American countries but during the governorship of Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez, this prosperity was lost and has never been regained.

Because of the great loss of citizenry, the country has been very open to immigration seeing the need for workers to fill the void that is even yet left because of the great loss of life during this time. Many of these colonist are of German Mennonite descent and have established themselves in the Gran Chaco of the country and are prosperous, providing needed progress to the country of Paraguay.

For a personal history of a descendant of Mennonite colonists here in Paraguay, read this account by a friend of mine who lives here in the Chaco. We have yet to meet in person but we will one day!!!

11 comments:

Pam said...

I had no idea Paraguay was big on pot!!

I tagged you to list 7 wierd facts about you and books. See my blog for details tomorrow.

Thursday's Child said...

Have you seen "The Mission" with Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro? (Also a very young and adorable Liam Neeson.) It probably would have won the Oscar but was up against "Platoon".

Jungle Mom said...

Thursday's Child, yes, I own a copy. The music is beautiful.

Obob said...

thank you for the morning history lesson, always need it

Betty said...

Thanks for linking me and the history lesson. I´m learning a lot about my own country.... Never knew about the red head :)

The Hermit said...

They said on the news a few days ago that Paraguay is the 2nd biggest exporter of marijuana to the U.S. and that it has it's own drug cartel. I hope you don't run afoul of any of those types.

Heather K said...

very interesting Rita...I love history! just heading over to read the link about the infamous red headed mistress.
I hope you're feeling better after having all those sores burnt off! Your hubby is wise in not wanting you out in the sun!
Now I have a strange question for you if you don't mind.... :) Have/do you use(d) sunscreen now or in the past? I'm wondering because I'm not so sure that it's use is a really good idea...I'm undecided. I've not really used it but have kept the kids covered up alot of the time...or out of the sun. We live in a very hot part of Canada..well not compared to where you live..Our summertime highs are around 100F or so. We live in a semi dessert region...anyway...just wanted to see what you've done..
:) take care ~Heather

Grandpa-Old Soldier said...

Howdy from Houston Texas. I spent some time in Panama in my earlier years, and loved. It I will be visiting your blog often. Stay safe and healthy.

Findalis said...

Thank you. I didn't know anything about Paraguay's history.

Z said...

VERY interesting...and THE MISSION is good, isn't it! (Anything with Irons....!!)

JM..thanks SO MUCH for your terrific compliment to Mr. Z on his article about Venezuela and the creeping Socialism we're emulating in America.

I really appreciate your support.
xxx

Gringo said...

Good summary of Paraguayan history. Paraguay may be small and in the middle of nowhere(which explains why it retained 16th century "vos" Spanish grammar, becoming isolated from subsequent grammar changes in Spain.), but its history is anything but vanilla.

In many ways, the history of Paraguay illustrates the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction. If Borges had decided to create a strange fictional history of some fictitious land,similar to what he did in some of his short stories, he could have done no better than to copy verbatim the history of Paraguay.

BTW, I do not mean "strange" as a put-down, but as a synonym for "fascinating."