Paraguay, by the mid-nineteenth century, was alone among the South American nations in its policy of internal development and economic autonomy. Exemplifying this were the many independent efforts at modernizing the country and its economy, including the building of a railway, telegraph system, and perhaps most importantly, an iron foundry. Although many foreign advisers were hired for these projects, ultimate control and direction rested in the hands of the Paraguayans themselves.
Elsewhere throughout the continent a new British-dominated neocolonial order had taken firm root. Britain's diplomatic ventures at this time centered on the formation of alliances with such American metropolises as Lima and Buenos Aires. These compacts were built upon mutual interests in reconstructing the splintered Viceroyalties into viable political units under basically British hegemony. “The nail is driven,” wrote Foreign Secretary Canning in 1824, “Spanish America is free, and if we do not mismanage our affairs sadly, she is English.”