Paraguay is providing England’s opponents in the football World Cup today. But The Independent’s Nick Higham discovers that the country has its own trophy.
Published: 10 June 2006
You can tell a lot about a country from its national heroes. In Paraguay they revere Francisco Solano Lopez, whose statue still stands in the centre of the capital, Asuncion. L
opez was a tyrant, who ruled Paraguay in succession to his father from 1862 to 1870. He was also a paranoid megalomaniac, who murdered members of his own family on suspicion of plotting against him, waged a disastrous five-year war against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in which three-quarters (yes, three-quarters) of his people died, and who kept as his mistress an Irish gold-digger called Eliza Lynch, notorious for parading on the battlefield in the latest imported Paris fashions while the flower of Paraguayan manhood starved beside her. As a nation, it seems to be a good definition of the word “forlorn”.