Paraguay. Both President Mario Abdo Benítez and his Vice President and Minister of Finance passed a declaration of confidence on August 20. The declaration of disbelief had been demanded by the largest opposition party, the True Liberal Radical Party (PLRA), for the government’s handling of a controversial energy agreement with Brazil. But the proposal was voted down by 43 votes to 36 in the House of Representatives, which prevented it from moving on to the Senate. On the same day, a congressional commission launched an investigation into how the agreement came to fruition.
At the same time, figures indicated that the country was heading for an economic crisis. According to a report from the central bank in September, the economy was expected to decline by 3% during the year. The main reason was a decline in the important soya sector and the fact that American soy has supplanted Paraguayan soy on the world market.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of PRY in general and in geography as Paraguay in particular.
As in the Brazilian Amazon, forest fires raged in the Chacor region of western Paraguay and in the world-class Pantanal area on the border with Brazil. On September 10, a national emergency was issued, but the WWF estimated that 100,000 hectares, or 70% of the Paraguayan portion of the Pantanal, had already been destroyed and criticized the government for responding too slowly to the disaster.
At the beginning of the year, 300 representatives of Paraguay’s indigenous people in the capital Asuncion demonstrated against Brazilian settlers who intrude on their traditional land. The murder of an activist from the protest movement on February 24 increased tensions.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Paraguay in 2019 was 7,044,525, ranking number 106 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.270% yearly, and the population density was 17.7313 people per km2.
Population. – The 1950 census gave a value of 1.328.452 residents (3.3 per km 2), distributed as in the following table; in 1958 the population was estimated at 1,655,000 residents
Economic conditions. – Agriculture still remains at the base of Paraguay’s economy.
Among the subtropical crops, the first place still belongs to cotton, even if this has seen its area shrink from 74,000 ha in 1951-52 to the current 60,000 ha; the production of 1951-52 was 140,000 q and was maintained in the following years at 110,000 q per year. Sugar cane, which in 1958 was cultivated on 21,000 ha, gives a production of 380,000 q, destined for the sugar factory, mostly, for the distillation of alcohol (4-5000 hl per year) and for the production of rum (30-40 thousand hl per year). The cultivation of tobacco currently extends over 6-7000 ha and in 1958 it gave a production of 72.000 q. Among the cereals in the first place always the corn which, on the contrary, registers a notable increase; it was in fact cultivated in 1952-53 on 82,000 ha (production: 1,070,000 q), which rose to 84,000 ha in 1955 (production about 1,250. 000 q) and 98,000 ha in 1958, which still produced 1,200,000 q. Cassava, grown on 62,000 ha in 1956, produced 9,500,000 q. Rice is grown on 7000 ha and produces (1958) about 160,000 q. Wheat production has more than quadrupled since 1952; in fact, from 1496 t produced in that year, it reached 6750 t in 1958. Citrus fruits (especially oranges and mandarins) gave a production of 20,300,000 q in 1952. The cultivation of banana trees in 1956 produced 7.7 million helmets.
The zootechnical patrimony has been considerably increased.
Cattle from 4,088,000 in 1954-55 rose, in the following two years, to 4,426,000; sheep from 222,000 to 351,000; horses from 350,000 to 517,000; donkeys from 17,000 in 1953-54, rose to around 20,000 in 1956 and mules from 8,000 to 11,000; finally, pigs had an increase of 75% from 1951-52 to 1955-56, having risen from 250,000 to 439,999; a decrease is recorded only for goats which from 68,000 in 1951-52 fell to 57,000 in 1955-56.
The industry still remains of modest proportions. The cotton mill in 1958 had 22,000 spindles and 672 looms; the cement factory produced 12,300 t. Recently, surveys have been carried out to ascertain the possibilities of the subsoil and it seems that in the Chaco, near the Bolivian border, there are oil fields and in the Sierra de Amanbay of coal. Water resources amount to 2 million kW; in 1958, 60 million kWh were produced.
Communications. – The railway network is currently 1245 km, of which 746 are for private use. A 1500 km long highway connects Asunción to Buenos Aires. A road is also under construction along the Paraná that will link Asunción to the Brazilian port of Parayana, finally allowing communication with the Atlantic; this road will cross the river on an international bridge 475 m long and 229 m high. River traffic records a transit of 400,000 t of goods, on average, per year.
Foreign trade. – Imports, for the period 1955-58, are around 2895.5 million dollars, and exports around 3509.7 million dollars. The largest export product is cotton, almost entirely absorbed by Argentina.
Finances. – The national income of the Paraguay was estimated, in 1958, at 20.7 billion guarani and the gross national product at 23.3 billion; compared to 1950 they have increased by 17 and 21 times respectively. It should be noted, however, that this increase was largely absorbed by the rise in prices, as the wholesale price index increased by 14 times and the cost of living index by more than 11 over the period considered.
In August 1957 a system of single exchange rates was introduced with floating rates applicable to all transactions. All exports were subjected to a tax of 15% of the fob value, reduced to 7½% in January 1959 and increased to 10% with the following month; since February 1959, a tax of 5% on the CIF value has been applied to imports, excluding those with neighboring countries. The exchange rate against the dollar, which in 1956 and 1957 had been fixed at 60 guarani per US dollar, then changed, reaching 94.60 guarani for exports and 111.30 guarani for imports in 1958; at the end of 1960, the exchange rate was 126 guarani per 1 US dollar
The currency reform of 1957 partially affected the activities of the credit system, in the sense that, while all foreign currencies were previously held by the Central Bank, later part of them passed to commercial banks, which use them to grant loans. to importers. Commercial banks are Banca del Paraguay and three private foreign banks; the first, which is governmental, absorbed, at the end of 1957, 75% of all loans and 70% of deposits.