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Paraguay: Urban Labor
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > Interest Groups > Urban Labor


Labor has not been an organized, tightly knit, autonomous force in Paraguay. The firms have traditionally been small, workers were not politically active, and personal relationships between employers and employees prevailed. As in other Southern Cone, an unstructured amalgam of trade unions. Despite its loose association with the Colorado Party, the CPT declared a general strike in 1958. Stroessner crushed the strike, dismissed the CPT leadership, and appointed a police officer as its head. Consistent with these actions, the government, and not the workers, continued to determine the confederation's leadership in the late 1980s.

The CPT remained the only legally recognized large labor organization; it contained 60,000 member, and claimed to represent 90 percent of organized labor. The CPT's refusal to endorse strikes after 1959 reflected the government's dominance over it. In 1985 the CPT lost its membership in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) after an ILO delegation to Paraguay determined that the CPT was neither independent nor democratic. Nonetheless, the CPT's existence allowed the labor force some access to government officials.

The first attempt to reform the labor movement came in 1979 with the emergence of the Group of Nine trade unions. The group, which included bank workers, a sector of construction workers, and the outlawed journalists' union, unsuccessfully attempted to take control of the CPT in March 1981. Several unions of the group subsequently broke away from the CPT and in 1982 led a successful national boycott of Coca Cola in order to reinstate trade union members at the bottling plant. From this effort emerged the InterUnion Workers Movement (Movimiento Intersindical de Trabajadores -- MIT) in 1985. The MIT received recognition from both the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the Latin American Central Organization of Workers (Central Latinoamericana de Trabajadores -- Clat), both of which sent representatives to express their support for the new movement. In the late 1980s, the MIT remained small, and its members were subject to harassment and imprisonment; nevertheless, it was still the only independent labor movement since Stroessner took power.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Paraguay was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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