Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (also Strössner or Strößner; November 3, 1912 – August 16, 2006), was a Paraguayan military officer who served as President of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989.
Stroessner objected to President Federico Chávez's plans to arm the national police and threw him out of office in a coup d'état on May 4, 1954. After a brief interim presidency by Tomás Romero,
Stroessner was the only candidate in a special election on July 11 to
complete Chávez' term. He was reelected seven times—in 1958, 1963, 1968,
1973, 1978, 1983, and 1988. He appeared alone on the ballot in 1958. In
his other elections, he won by implausibly high margins; the opposition
was lucky to get over 20 percent of the vote. He served for 35 years,
with only Fidel Castro having a longer tenure among 20th century Latin American leaders. Soon after taking office, Stroessner declared a state of siege,
which allowed him to suspend civil liberties and rule by decree. It was
renewed every 90 days until 1987. Although the state of siege was
technically restricted to the capital after 1970, the courts ruled that
anyone charged with security offenses could be brought to the capital
and indicted under the state-of-siege provisions. Thus, for all intents
and purposes, Stroessner ruled under what amounted to martial law for virtually his entire tenure. A devoted anti-communist, he justified this action as a necessary tool to protect the country.