Stroessner, Paraguay's archetypal South American dictator, dies at 93

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The Independent US

Alfredo Stroessner, the canny anti-Communist general who ruled Paraguay with a blend of force, guile and patronage for 35 years, becoming one of Latin America's most enduring dictators, died in exile yesterday. He was 93.

Mr Stroessner died of a stroke after contracting pneumonia following a hernia operation in Brazil's capital, where he lived in near isolation for the 17 years after he was forced out.

He seized power in a 1954 coup and governed Paraguay through fraud and repression, longer than any other head of state in the western hemisphere at the time. He was finally driven from power by his own generals on 3 February 1989.

The son of a Bavarian immigrant and a Paraguayan mother, he epitomised a generation of authoritarian leaders in Latin America, putting his name on public buildings and describing opponents as Marxist subversives.

Under Mr Stroessner, Paraguay became a refuge for Nazi war criminals - including the Auschwitz SS doctor, Josef Mengele, who lived openly in Paraguay's German community before moving to Brazil. He also sheltered other right-wing dictators, such as Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza.

Many Paraguayans still revile Mr Stroessner, and President Nicanor Duarte said on Tuesday, amid reports of his failing health, that there were no plans to honour the former leader after his death.AP