Lino Oviedo: Politician who helped lead the 1989 coup in Paraguay

 

Lino Oviedo, who died in a helicopter crash on 2 February at the age of 69, was a Paraguayan presidential candidate who helped the lead the 1989 coup that overthrew the former dictator Alfredo Stroessner. A retired general known as a dynamic public speaker – and the country's most controversial politician – Oviedo was running in the April presidential election in the impoverished and politically unstable South American country.

Police rescuers found his body the following day in the wreckage in northern Paraguay, where he was travelling for a campaign event. It was exactly 24 years since the coup that ended Stroessner's dictatorship. Six months after being sworn in for his eighth full term, Stroessner was overthrown in a bloody coup d'état led by General Andres Rodriguez; it was rumoured, though never confirmed, that Oviedo had threatened Rodriguez with a grenade if he did not launch the coup.

Oviedo – known as "the Bonsai horseman" because of his height – was also accused of plotting to overthrow governments in the 1990s and jailed. He was pardoned and returned to politics as leader of the National Union of Ethical Citizens party.

Born into poverty in 1943. Oviedo went into the military, studying in Germany and eventually becoming a close aide to General Rodriguez. He was named Chief of the Army in 1993 but jeopardised the fragile democracy in April 1996 when President Juan Carlos Wasmosy – the country's first elected leader since the 1950s – asked him to step down.

Oviedo refused and threatened a coup; after days of tension, Wasmosy offered him the Defence Ministry, but when Oviedo went to the presidential palace to take the oath the President, backed by popular demonstrations, withdrew the offer. Oviedo set up his own faction within the governing Colorado Party, rapidly becoming its most popular politician thanks partly to his rhetorical skills.

A month before the national elections, and while leading the polls, he received a 10-year prison sentence for his 1996 mutiny. His running mate Raul Cubas won the 1998 presidential election, largely based on the promise to free Oviedo, which he did days after taking office, over the protest of the Paraguayan Supreme Court and opposition leaders.

In March 1999, the vice president Luis María Argaña, a key political enemy of Oviedo and Cubas, was assassinated. Amid riots and political turmoil, Cubas resigned, abandoning Oviedo, who fled into exile, first in Argentina and then in Brazil.

In 2004 he returned to Paraguay and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. In 2006, a Paraguayan man, Tomas Velázquez, held a hunger strike before he crucified himself publicly as a protest in Asuncion. He maintained that Oviedo was the target of persecution and that the military tribunal that convicted him was illegal according to the constitution, as it had been conducted in time of peace.

Oviedo was released in 2007, initially on parole for good behaviour; his conviction was then overturned in a majority ruling by the country's Supreme Court following testimony from former officers that there had been no coup attempt.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution