Thursday, April 8, 2004

Paraguay pays victims of former dictatorship

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) -- Paraguay's government made payments totaling US$270,000 Wednesday to 34 former political prisoners and other victims of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner's 35-year dictatorship.

At a ceremony in the capital, Economy Minister Dionisio Borda handed out checks ranging from US$500 to US$15,000 to people who had been imprisoned during Stroessner's 1954-1989 iron-fisted rule.

Borda said those awarded compensation included a 90-year-old former president of the communist party who spent 18 years behind bars until his release in 1972. The man was reported held for years without trial.

The economy minister said many of the past victims are now aging or in ill health and that the awards will help several pay for medical treatment.

He added that more compensation will be awarded to other victims.

Some 400 people, including political opponents, labor organizers, journalists, students and other professionals, have been verified so far as victims of torture, detention or both during Stroessner's long rule, and qualified for compensation.

Following his ouster in 1989, Stroessner went into exile and now, at age 91, lives in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.