In February 1989, General Alfredo Stroessner, Paraguay's
longtime dictator, was deposed in a coup led by one of his top
generals. During the first days after the coup, hundreds of rural
Paraguayans swept onto unused lands claimed by the state, the
Stroessner family and its cronies, and foreign investors, to set up
ramshackle huts and clear plots to grow manioc and corn. They were
soon followed by thousands more. By mid-1990, observers and
representatives of the occupants estimated that roughly 19,000
families had claimed lands totaling over 360,000 hectares.
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