Forty years ago in Paraguay: the day an Argentine ERP command killed former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza

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It was an attack that went around the world, which forty years ago killed the former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza on an avenue in Asunción, an armed action that in turn hit the military regime of Alfredo Stroessner, who had given him asylum in Paraguay.

This Thursday marks four decades of that attack perpetrated by four men and three women of the Argentine Marxist guerrilla People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), a command led by Enrique Gorriarán Merlo, who had fought with the Sandinistas to overthrow Somoza.

Somoza met his death at the age of 54, on the morning of September 17, 1980 on Avenida Asunceña then called Generalissimo Franco, in honor of the Spanish dictator.

He came under fire from sophisticated weaponry that included el bazuka, which hit the vehicle in which he was traveling.

“Tachito” Somoza arrived in Asunción in August 1979, one month after the triumph of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which put an end to the dynastic dictatorship begun in 1937 by his father.

Lost America’s support sought refuge in Miami, Bahamas and Guatemala, from where he flew to Paraguay.

“He was an international pariah, nobody wanted to receive him. Until he applied for (asylum) to Stroessner. And he agreed. For reasons of political affinity and because in his environment they speculated with getting a lot of money from himbecause they knew that he had even stolen from the Nicaraguan Treasury, “Paraguayan journalist and investigator Antonio Pecci told Efe.

Together with an entourage of relatives and Dinorah Sampson, his partner in his later years, Somoza stayed in a mansion in the exclusive area from Asunción from where he dedicated himself to planning land investments and an active social agenda in bars and restaurants.

While it was part of that public life, the ERP finalized “Operation Reptil”, the plan to behead Somoza.

Already in Paraguay, the command noticed a mansion located a few blocks from Somoza’s and next to the avenue where his car was traveling.

A strategic stage that you had to rent at all costs to the real estate agency.

Journalist Mónica Zub, author of “Somoza in Paraguay”, explains that in order to gain the trust of those in charge of the agency and achieve that rent, the command He assured that the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias would reside there.

“They were told that Julio Iglesias was going to come to Paraguay, that he liked the country a lot and that he would give a concert, but to keep it secret,” Zub told Efe.

The promise A future photo signed by the singer closed the deal, Zub said.

On September 17, the command, supported by a truck and submachine guns, submachine guns, assault rifles, and an RPG-7 rocket launcher, he bet a few meters from that mansion to intercept the Mercedes in which Somoza was riding.

It was ten in the morning when the capital was shaken by the roar of bullets and rocket launchers, which also killed his driver, César Gallardo, and his financial advisor, José Baittine.

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