Paraguay: Government resumes the search for persons disappeared during dictatorship

The Paraguayan government resumed last February the excavations to find the mortal remains of hundreds of victims of the military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, the longest dictatorship in South America (from 1954 to 1989). This was announced by The National Director of Historical Memory and Reparations.

According to the Truth and Justice Commission, 425 persons were executed or forcibly disappeared under Stroessner’s regime, and around 20 000 were held prisoners. Most of them were tortured in detention.

The research team, composed of police, judges and prosecutors, began with the search for the body of the commander Juan José Rotela, a guerrilla leader who failed to overthrow Stroessner, and then was allegedly killed by regime forces.

Experts believe they can find more than 200 bodies in the region of Caazapa (in southern Paraguay) alone. This is based on accounts from witnesses, who testified having observed the construction of military barracks in the 1970’s to repress political dissidents in this area.

Despite the difficulty of finding the exact spot where the bodies were buried, excavations have yielded their first results. The remains of 27 people have already been found in Caazapa, in addition to the 23 found since the search began in the rest of the country.

The team will now proceed to the identification of the bodies while excavations will continue in parallel. The process will go on until the team find, at least, the remains of a half of the reported missing persons.

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