Tiny, landlocked Paraguay had the ignominy of being home to one of the 20th century's longest-ruling dictators. Alfredo Stroessner, a military officer, swept into power in 1954 in a typical South American palace coup and clung to power until 1989 a bad year for tyrants. TIME wrote of Stroessner after his fall, "A dinosaur among despots, Stroessner ruled with absolute authority longer than any other leader in the western hemisphere and was second only to North Korea's Kim Il Sung as the world's most durable dictator." As with many of Latin America's autocrats, his rule was tolerated by Washington because of his professed anticommunism. He kept the country under an almost permanent "state of siege" for four decades, and torture, kidnappings and police brutality became hallmarks of his regime. Stroessner was ousted in February 1989 by generals who feared the strongman was grooming his cocaine-addicted son to be next in line. He died in exile in Brazil in 2006.