Archives of Terror
Theme: Political persecution
Alonso and Tesanova
Theme: Political persecution
Purpose of Memory
The space commemorates Paraguayan victims of political persecution during Stroessner's dictatorship. The “Archives of Terror” made it possible to clarify the human rights violations committed during this period and to contribute to the judicial process against their perpetrators.
Archives of Terror
Date of creation / identification / declaration
Free access with some restrictions that are due to personal data protection reasons.
2009: Registered on UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
Archives of Terror is the name of a set of official documents related to police repression in Paraguay, particularly during the period of Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship. The collection consists of approximately 300 lineal meters of documentation produced between 1930 and 1992, including the documents related to the Stronist period, between 1954 and 1992.
The documentary collection includes criminal records, statements of those arrested, books of entry and exit of prisoners, intelligence information about people and organizations, news from police guards, audiotapes of police controls, photographs taken by the police, bibliographic materials impounded during house searches, among other documents.
The documents, seized in a judicial proceeding carried out on 22 December 1992, belong to the Police Investigations Department, the National Directorate of Technical Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior of Paraguay.
General Alfredo Stroessner led a coup d’état in May 1954 with the support of the Armed Forces and the Colorado Party. Unlike what happened in other dictatorships in the Southern Cone, Stroessner soughtlegislative, regulatory and constitutional support to the Paraguayan dictatorship. To that end, he amended the Constitution and the electoral system, allowing him to be reelected as president six times. Governing almost continuously for 35 years under the state of siege provision, he severely limited political freedom and systematically persecuted opponents of the regime under the pretext of national security issues and the fight against communism..
The repressive structure of the Paraguayan dictatorship,focused on the Police of the capital city, had a complex network of informants, whistleblowers and armed forces who kept all public and private activities of the population under strict control. The numerous crises faced by the regime at the end of the 1980s resulted in the overthrow and subsequent exile of General Stroessner and the call for new general elections in 1989.
On 22 December 1992, in the city of Lambaré, more than 700,000 documents dated between 1920 and 1989 were found, which included the documents of State security agencies related to repression during Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship. After a brief review of the material, it was ordered that the files be transferred to the Palace of Justice, and their classification started at the beginning of 1993. The Supreme Court of Justice and the State Prosecutor’s Office instructed the officers to collaborate with experts on documentation. Said experts were part of two non-governmental organizations: the Center of Documentation and Studies and the Churches Committee for Emergency Aid (CIPAE).
In March 1993, the Supreme Court of Justice created the Archive and Documentation Center for the Defense of Human Rights (CDyA), which is located in the Palace of Justice. The center is open to the public, and in its database about 60,000 records may be consulted on the 300,000 documents of the “Archives of Terror”. To facilitate public access, digital images of 249 documents related to the repressive coordination of the Southern Cone countries known as “Operation Cóndor” have been included. The CDyA collaborates both on judicial and academic investigations.
The discovery of this archive in 1992 allowed, among other things, the recognition and reparation process of victims through Law No. 838/96 and the creation of the local branch of the American Association of Jurists, in addition to the first claim against the United States for being liable for State Terrorism in Paraguay in 1993. Later on, the archive was key for the investigations conducted by the Truth and Justice Commission (2004-2008). The documents made it possible to issue final judgments in relevant cases and contributed to the international justice processes carried out in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Spain, France, Italy and Switzerland. They also contributed to the search for detained-missing people and other victims of the several coordinated repressive operations in the American continent, in particular of the so-called “Operation Cóndor”, a system of repressive coordination of Southern Cone dictatorships.
They also encouraged scientific-legal research and generated many historical research studies and documents from the national and international print and audiovisual press.