General Higinio Morinigo (1897-1983), named president of Paraguay in 1940, suspended the constitution and ruled as a military dictator. Under his regime, Paraguay suffered frequent disturbances, including labor and general strikes and student riots. The military, which received 45 percent of the national income, remained loyal to Morinigo and crushed his opposition. In July 1946, he permitted the resumption of political activity, banned since 1940, and formed a two-party cabinet. The next year the Febreristas resigned from the cabinet and, under their party's leader, Rafael Franco (1896-1973), a former Paraguayan president, tried to seize control of the government with the help of other liberals. They were defeated in a civil war from March to August 1947. Morinigo remained in office...
...full-scale civil war in March 1947.
Led by Colonel Rafael Franco, the revolutionaries were an unlikely coalition of Febreristas, Liberals, and communists, united only in their desire to overthrow Morínigo. The Colorados helped Morínigo crush the insurgency, but the man who saved Morínigo's government during crucial battles was the commander of the General Brúgez Artillery Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Alfredo Stroessner Mattiauda. When a revolt at the Asunción Navy Yard put a strategic working-class neighborhood in rebel hands, Stroessner's regiment quickly reduced the area to rubble. When rebel gunboats threatened to dash upriver from Argentina to bombard the capital into submission, Stroessner's forces battled furiously and knocked them out of commission.
By the end of the rebellion in August, a single party--one that had been out of power since 1904--had almost total control in Paraguay. The fighting had simplified politics by eliminating all parties except the Colorados and by reducing the size of the army. Because nearly four-fifths of the officer corps had joined the rebels, fewer individuals were now in a position to compete for power. As had often happened in the past, however, the Colorados split into rival factions.