Jesuit State in Paraguay

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Jesuit State in Paraguay


(1610–1768), formed by the Jesuits, who came to Paraguay at the end of the 16th century for the purpose of exploiting the Indians under the pretext of converting them to Christianity.

The first settlements (called reducciones) of Indians headed by Jesuits originated in 1609–10. They were a branch of the vast feudal organization of the Jesuit Order with elements of slavery as well as patriarchal-clan relations. After depriving the Indians of all their property, the Jesuits compelled them by hard labor in the fields and in workshops to create enormous riches for the order. (The order’s average annual profit amounted to $3 million.) The Indians died off from the unbearable toil, hunger, and disease as well as from the wars waged by the Jesuits against unconquered Indians. (During the 17th century there were 150,000 Indians in the reducciones, whereas in 1739 there were 74,000.) The growth of Jusuit wealth and power in Paraguay and other Spanish colonies alarmed the Spanish authorities, and in 1768 they decreed that the Jusuits be expelled from Spain’s American possessions.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.