Paraguay: How the continent’s most prosperous country was fallen into ruins:
Paraguay, i don’t know how to describe you, you’re weird! Although i couldn’t spend much time with you, i evedropped and saw some things…
In one side, there are Mercedes and BMW cars, waiting line in front of McDonald’s, on the other side, youngsters entering the bus randomly to sell fruits and chips, or the drug dealers on every corner, some waiting their boss to cross into Brazil. With expensive education (e.x., it’s 1500 USD$ to enter university placement exam), where teenagers are trying to get into Argentina for free education. With all hopes on Paraguay’s football team in international tournaments to forget everything, where the president is a Narco 😂
But there’s a significant point that differentiated this country from it’s neighbors.
In 19th century, British Empire was supporting Latin countries for their independence from Spain, to be economically bounded to British later. And they succeeded, without paying anything in this continent, for the source of the Industrial Revolution.
With steam machines, textile fabrics, newly emerging banks, big ships, they carried the richness of the west. Leather from Rio de la Plata, copper of Chile, Cuban sugar, Brazilian coffee, iron, gold, cotton… In exchange of rail roads, pots, guns, cotton textiles, leather saddles produced in Britain.
So liberalism conquested the New World, along with Asia to Africa and Oceania. There must be a British flag in every corner of the world. The Latin countries, who got support from British for independences, gave special privileges, to be abused later. Local economy bankrupted against strong British companies. So British opened banks in this continent one by one, to give loans, that these countries can’t pay back later, turning them into colonies of British. Much easier and effective than what Spanish&Portuguese did for colonialism before British, huh?
In 1860s, behind the scenes of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Paraguay developed independently from the external world. There wasn’t bourgeoisie, the country was shaped with powerful statist economy, upper class couldn’t compete & was weak against the state. The country had free education, extensive railroad and telegraph lines, economy that can feed itself, no debt, great army and industry. Of course this situation has begun to worry British, as Paraguay may influence it’s neighbor countries, bounded to British.
First, Paraguay’s ally Uruguay was put into economic&political crisis to change it’s president and ally with British, who will then be against Paraguay. Because Paraguay was supporting Uruguay, to clear it’s debts to British. Brazil was also suffering economic crisis; it was easier to invade Paraguay rather than develop solutions. And of course, the unresolved post-Spanish border conflict tensions, in the region was very tense, including the desire of political dominance of Argentina and Brazil in the region. It wasn’t really hard to spark the fire of war. Only thing was to decide, who will fight against who, among Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay to shape the continent.
So it turned out that, Uruguay, Argentina & Brazil formed an alliance against Paraguay. What happened was considered as a genocide. Losing the army battle, Paraguayans formed guerrilla war, fighting until the last man, including children. %90 of the total men population of Paraguay perished, only 28.000 living men left. Population of Paraguay was 525.000 before the war, and 221.000 after the war, nearly half of the total population died. Church gave permission to men to marry more than 1 woman due to the situation. Everything was sacked and destroyed. Not only that, but also %70 of lands were lost to Brazil&Argentina. And Paraguay had to pay compensation to Brazil&Argentina after war, with nothing they have left. Industry moved to neighbour countries, free education&health system ended, railways and agricultural lands were sold to foreign companies. The direction of economy for compensations after the war was assigned to British, being the first winner of the war, without using any British soldiers.
Sounds quite a drama. However this is only the wide picture. Imagine every single Paraguayans, who held stories with them, every mother, father, their children before the war…