1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Paraguay

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PARAGUAY (see 20.756).—The pop. of Paraguay in 1920 was supposed to be about 800,000. At least 60% of the inhabitants were illiterate, though President Franco during 1916-9 made an attempt toward educational progress. The school registration for 1916 was 80,142.

Of the imports of Paraguay 81%, and of the exports 40%, pass through the Asunción custom-house. The total foreign trade of Paraguay varied little between 1907 and 1918 though the proportion of imports to exports differed, as will be seen from the following table, showing the official customs values in Paraguayan gold pesos, equal to 4s. or $0.96 each:—

Imports Exports Total

 1907   7,512,502   3,236,110   10,748,612 
1917 5,098,581  6,494,802  11,593,383 
1918 5,201,726  7,171,319  12,373,045 

The United Kingdom had first place in imports until 1908, when Germany passed her, supplying 29% of the total imports as against Great Britain's 21 per cent. A close competition followed. In 1913 the United Kingdom supplied 28.6% of Paraguay's imports as compared with 27.6% from Germany, but in 1914 the situation was reversed, Germany supplying 27% to the United Kingdom's 22.7 per cent. In 1915 and 1916 the proportion of imports from the United Kingdom rose to 33% and 38.5% respectively. There was in 1921 only one strictly British mercantile house, and only one American, as compared with five German houses.

History.—Manuel Gondra became President on Jan. 18 1911 but was overthrown by a revolution headed by Col. Albino Jara in July of that year. Jara was succeeded in turn by Liberate Rojos, who was overthrown Jan. 14 1912 by another “alteration of the legal order,” as a consequence of which Pedro Pena was placed in the presidential chair Feb. 29. Considerable bloodshed accompanied these changes, which cost the country at least £400,000. On March 25 Emiliano Gonzalez Navero became President, retaining office until Aug. 15, when Eduardo Scherer succeeded him. Scherer actually completed his term of office, the first time this had occurred in Paraguay since 1870. His firmness prevented several outbreaks and disturbances, especially one at the beginning of 1915, which might have been most serious under a weaker executive. Scherer's successor was fortunately another able man, Manuel Franco, who retained his position from Aug. 15 1916 until his death on June 3 1919. Franco not merely forestalled revolutions, but brought Paraguayan finance to the best condition it had reached for years. During his administration the meat-packing industry became fully established in Paraguay. This was the greatest step forward that had occurred since 1870. By encouraging an industry which more than almost any other improves the lot of the individual farmer in a rather isolated agricultural country, the three United States packing-houses that established themselves in Paraguay during President Franco's administration were of great service. They caused a thorough survey of Paraguay's cattle-raising possibilities to be made and also studied the different grasses and areas of pasturage and their suitability for different breeds of cattle. In 1918 37% of the total exports of Paraguay consisted of the products of stock-raising and meat-packing as against 32.4% for the products of the forest industries (lumber, quebracho, etc.) and 30.2% for agricultural products.

José P. Montero filled the remainder of Franco's presidential term, from June 3 1919 to Aug. 15 1920, when Manuel Gondra again became President, having been elected while minister to the United States. The lessened demand from Europe and the United States for the chief exports of Paraguay at the close of the World War caused a decided setback to Paraguay's prosperity. On Jan. 1 1921 Paraguay was unable to meet the payments due on her foreign debts, and the largest banks in the country became seriously involved, further aggravating the commercial crisis. An American financial adviser was assisting the Paraguayan Government in 1921. On Nov. 17 1913 through rail communication was inaugurated between Asunción and Buenos Aires. This has done much to lessen the isolation of the country, for under normal conditions the journey between the two cities is made in 50 hours. Paraguay renewed direct diplomatic relations with the United States in 1913, sending a minister to Washington for the first time in eight years, while the United States created a separate mission for Paraguay in the same year, accrediting a minister to Paraguay alone, instead of to Uruguay and Paraguay jointly as formerly. Great Britain in 1921 still accredited one minister to both countries. The United States and Paraguay signed an extradition treaty on July 30 1913. In Nov. 1921, Pres. Gondra was ejected from office as the result of a revolution.

The Government remained neutral during the World War, though Congress adopted a resolution of sympathy with the Allies and of approval of the action of the United States in declaring war on Germany. The Government dismissed some of its German employees, and maintained a pro-Ally attitude.

The best recent book on Paraguay is: W. L. Schurz, Paraguay, a Commercial Handbook, published by the Government Printing Office at Washington, D.C., 1920.

(C. L. C.)