Ghosts of the Stronato: Asunción’s Taiwanese expats a dying breed

And I owe it all to my old pal, Alfredo!

There aren’t many options if you’re bookless in Asunción, but the dusty old store halfway up Silvio Pettirossi is a real treat. Among Spanish translations of Jules Roy and propaganda materials featuring images of the late dictator General Alfredo Stroessner, I find a small blue pamphlet.

Published by the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) – now known as the World League for Freedom and Democracy – it is titled “Industria de Los Comunistas Chinos en 1979.” Even if my Spanish language skills weren’t so limited, I wouldn’t be all that interested in the contents: annual increases in bicycle and fertilizer production, to take just one page. But the booklet is a reminder of just how tight the relationship between Taiwan and Paraguay was during El Stronato, as Stroessner’s 35-year reign was known.

The WACL emerged from the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League, which was cofounded by the rightist governments of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) in Taiwan and Syngman Rhee in South Korea in 1954. It soon became a club for dictators, former Nazis, terrorists and assorted ne’er-do-wells. Stroessner was in his element.

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