Hit & Run

Dystopia, Limited

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News I missed last month: General Alfredo Stroessner, brutal ruler of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989, died in August at age 93. Besides his own human rights abuses, which were substantial, Stroessner opened his country to Joseph Mengele and other butchers of the Nazi era. Despite that, he never made the all-star team of popular villains. Conservatives will defend Pinochet with the weak praise "At least he wasn't as bad as Castro," and leftists will defend Castro with the weak praise "At least he isn't as bad as Pinochet"; I don't think I've ever heard the phrase "At least he isn't as bad as Stroessner" pass anyone's lips.

One obit quotes a New York Post piece from 1961: "Were it not for an occasional headless body floating down the Parana River, it might be possible to consider the gaudily uniformed and medaled dictator of Paraguay -- the last of the breed in South America -- a character out of Gilbert and Sullivan." In fact, he turned out to be one of the first of a new breed, as a wave of coups swept Latin America, many of them sponsored by the U.S. In the '70s, with the Southern Cone dominated by military governments, Stroessner's Paraguay and the other regimes of the region organized the infamous Operation Condor to coordinate their kidnappings, torture, assassinations, etc.

A rare interview with the general.

A website devoted to Paraguay's "Archive of Terror."

Did Operation Condor target Ed Koch?