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Sunday, August 4th 2013, 2:37pm

Noticias Paraguay 1944

Paraguay: A History, by L. Carlos, Bahia Free Press, 1957

1944 saw Paraguay hanging the balance of returning to turmoil as the abuses of power by the National Party clashed with the increasing grip of the Marxist Party in the countryside and on food supplies to the towns.

Politics
The elections of June 1941 to the Chamber of Deputies saw the following shares of the vote; Catholic Peoples Party 40%, National Peoples Party 38%, Marxist Party 9.7%, Northern Democratic Party 8.3%, Asuncion Workers Party 1.3% and Landworkers Party 1.3%. The Catholic Peoples Party and the National Peoples Party formed a coalition government.

Prime Minister Luis Contreras retained, more or less, total political dominance of the political institutions but the Marxists had influence beyond the number of deputies they possessed. The growing power and influence of the Marxist Party in the rural areas was worrying and as they increased their share hold in the foodstuff sector of the country the Coalition were fearful the Marxists could cut off the food supplies to the towns or restrict supply as ransom to achieve their political ends. At the very least they were making large amounts of money which were filling the Party coffers.

Luis Contreras had promised to build 20,000 homes a year to re-house the population in 1939 but by the end of 1944 the total was only 41,000 since the programme began but the year had seen massively increased building. Local firms completed two model estate schemes during the year, one in Asuncion and one at Caacupe. Slum conditions eased a little as rural employment recovered and less people migrated to the towns. Education healthcare policies remained on track but during the year over 900 teachers in rural areas had joined the new Rural Teachers League sponsored by the Marxist Party. Aid groups were still funding around 40% of the healthcare system and increased spending was largely wasted by government inefficiency.

Resistance to paying taxes was dealt with by the Fraud Department created in 1941 under the leadership of the former Argentine security minister Chico. During 1943 some 2,800,000 Pesos of unpaid tax was confiscated and added to the nations coffers, notably the tax inspectors relieving the Marxist Party of almost a million Pesos in land taxes. The Party claimed they had paid their due taxes but strong-arm methods and intimidated in local areas proved effective in getting the local officials to hand over the money. Marxist Party calls for a public investigation into corruption by the Fraud Department fell on deaf ears politically and amongst the middle classes there was no interest in defending the farmers rights, who they saw as ransoming the country anyway. Three Commune farms were abandoned owing to drought and the lack of money. Opposition to the Catholic Peoples Partys Land Plan continued, especially from the Landowners Association. During the winter, supported by the national bank, they raised enough funds to buy over 15,000 acres of land to prevent smallholders from purchasing it and it was handed to four prominent landowners. The process of landowners mechanising their farms forced over 5,000 labourers and their families off the land by 1945.

Economics
Inflation remained roughly 7% during 1944 and interest rates rose slightly to 8.5% (peaking at 9.5% during May-September). In the rural areas the Marxist Party Commune farms had brought around 95 shops and set up a sizable distribution system during 1943 but no further expansion was made. Indeed around ten stores were opened by a company alleged to be a front organisation run by the government and the Catholic Peoples Party through the Church had founded several food and hardware stalls in rural areas.

Defence
Since Argentine military control officially ended March 1939 only modest Army, Air Force and Navy detachments remain in Paraguay to fulfil the March 1937 joint defence agreement. The Paraguayan Army remained unchanged with no new equipment but the Air Force received twenty-four ex-Argentine IMPA Vanquish III bombers. Four new motor gunboats with rocket-mounts for shore support were acquired for the Rio Paraguay.

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Monday, August 5th 2013, 4:01am

At the risk of sounding intrusive, the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst is available to assist in the sort of development projects mentioned. The German Government would happily offer their services if desired.