Colonial Period

From the point of the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, which occurred in the 16th Century, some main facts need mentioning:

  • The discovery of the Rio de la Plata by Juan Díaz de Solís, in 1515.
  • The expedition of Alejo García, who is considered the discoverer of Paraguay, arrived from Brazil in 1524.
  • The exploration of the de la Plata, Paraná and Paraguay rivers by Sebastián Gaboto, who arrived in 1528 at the headwaters of the Paraná and Paraguay rivers.
  • The expedition of Juan de Ayolas and Domingo Martínez de Irala, in 1536, by mandate of Pedro de Mendoza, First Governor of the Rio de la Plata, predecessor of the former, achieved by Gonzalo de Mendoza and Juan de Salazar, the end result that was the founding of the fort Our Lady of Asunción by Salazar, in 1537.

Regarding these historic landmarks, and the decision to give Asunción the character of “Mother City,” from which expeditions set forth to found numerous towns and cities in the region, such as Santa Fe and Buenos Aires, the process was formed that used the indigenous population in encomienda labor and the gradual mixture of races through the marriage of Spanish men to indigenous women, in an institution that was named the “cuñadazgo.”

The Jesuit Missions constituted a unique experience of spreading the gospel and of community government, which began in 1604 and culminated with the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1777.  This experience left its traces, through knowledge, technology and art, in the ruins that even today can be admired in some places in the southern part of the country.

The Rebel Revolution, taking place between 1717 and 1735, constituted another unavoidable act in the period that created the foundation for independence. Led in its first phase by José de Antequera y Castro, it was founded on the idea that real power should be exercised by natural right delegated by the people. 

Commissioned by the Tribunal of Charcas, Antequera proved the truthfulness of the accusations of misgovernment that weighed on the governor Balmaceda and assumed the temporary government, matters that culminated in the war between the rebels and the Jesuits.  Antequera was finally imprisoned by the realists and executed, although the Rebel Revolution persisted in various revolts, until the last, led by Friar Juan José de Vargas, and quashed by the governor Rafael de la Moneda.