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A thorn in the side of Paraguay regime

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THERE'S a bit of Paraguayan paradox in the life of Aldo Zuccolillo. He owns what is said to be this nation's most popular newspaper, ABC Color. But it hasn't been permitted to print for two years.

His wealth and family ties would ordinarily make him a privileged intimate of the 32-year regime of strong man Alfredo Stroessner. Yet Mr. Zuccolillo is one of the government's most outspoken critics.

He was jailed twice for his newspaper's reports on government corruption. But Zuccolillo admits that he or almost any other Paraguayan businessman must be a willing accomplice in that corruption to succeed here.

The newspaper publisher is considered a sort of bellwether of establishment thinking, which is turning increasingly toward support of an unprecedented, broad-based opposition to General Stroessner's regime.

Zuccolillo was the first among those who traditionally benefited from the right-wing authoritarian government to join the opposition, says United States Ambassador Clyde Taylor. (The publisher opened ABC Color with General Stroessner's approval in 1967 and had made it the nation's largest newspaper by 1984, when Stroessner closed it.)

``He's done a self-analysis, found the need to confess his sins, and acknowledge that it's time for these people to be responsible [for turning the country around],'' says the ambassador, who has himself cut a controversial profile here for his encouragement of the opposition.

For years, the opposition has consisted of center and leftist political parties outlawed by the regime. They want a return to civilian rule and an end to arbitrary arrests, press censorship, and restrictions on unions and political parties. But this year even some members of Stroessner's ruling right-wing Colorado Party, disturbed about corruption, have joined in dissent. Paraguay's deteriorating economy, a further spur to opposition growth, is believed connected to government neglect and corruption.


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