Paraguay, officially the Republic of Paraguay, is one of the only two landlocked countries in South America (along with Bolivia). It lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, bordering Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest, and is located in the center of South America, the country is sometimes referred to as Corazón de América - Heart of (South) America along with Bolivia and Brazil.
Dictatorship from 814 until 1840
- It was March 1 1814, and José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, was about to become “Supreme Dictator”, a title he would hold until his death in 1840. [...] He remains a mysterious figure, who had a doctorate in theology but in politics behaved as a French Jacobin. Running an austere and orderly iron-fisted government, Francia secured Paraguayan independence by isolating his nation from the outside world. In 1814, Francia issued a decree forbidding marriages between “European men” (namely, Spaniards) and women “known as Spanish” (born in Spain or of Spanish descent). European men would only be allowed to marry indigenous, mixed-race or black Paraguayan women. By preventing the white elite from reproducing, Francia’s decree had the undeniable potential to allow the newly independent Paraguay to rise as a mixed-race nation. But was that Francia’s intent? Scholars differ on the reasoning behind his law, which is unique in all Latin American, if not in world, history. Sergio Guerra Vilaboy sees it as an economic effort, noting that in newly post-colonial Paraguay, Europeans still held a prominent position. By curbing their power, Francia dealt “a hard blow to the old trade oligarchy of [the capital] Asunción”, allowing other social classes to thrive. For Julio César Chaves, the 1814 marriage decree aimed to reduce the political threat posed by royalist Spaniards in Paraguay, and it was one of many such provisions. In addition to forbidding Europeans to wed Europeans, Francia also confiscated royal and church lands and gave them to indigenous peasants as “state ranches”. In return, they served as soldiers loyal to the Supreme Dictator; no one was allowed to hold a rank above captain.
- From Paraguay, a history lesson on racial equality, theconversation.com