Archive for May, 2007

Perfect Spanish!

The other day I was in a Mexican restaurant trying to choose order dish…since I don’t know much about Mexican food (Paraguayan food is totally different), I asked in Spanish the waitress details about their menu.

She looked at me very surprised and said: your Spanish is perfect!, then I said, thanks, yes, it’s because that I’m from Paraguay, then she looked back at me and said again: I must say your Spanish is really perfect…I was surprised and not that surprised because she had no clue where Paraguay was, even in Latin America Paraguay tend to vanish, or in the best case scenario confused with Uruguay.

People give me a confused look when I tell them that I’m from Paraguay…and ironically  we are from the same continent.

I’m not sure if I love to be invisible, it surely doesn’t bother me much…after all, at least, my Spanish is perfect ;-)

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ABC Ciudadano! Our space to reach the world.

My favorite newspaper in Paraguay has published our Photo in its online site, check it out, thanks to my friend Ricardo Ulke we have our space to share photos and comments in a special supplement called ABC Ciudadano in ABC digital.

Our Independence day celebration photo.

Isn’t that space dedicated to the folk fantastic? People now can express and communicate thru comments or pictures whatever they want to let the world know.

Be heard without shouting, be seen thru your photos, let this space be your window to the world.

I will incentive people to participate actively, this is our tool! go ahead and use it!!

Thanks again Ricardo!

Click here to see pictures and comments send by citizens not journalists, this space is for the citizens you can even send a pics or video taken with your cell phone…isn’t this awesome?

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Harvard Report

Someone sent this report to my blog webmaster…

What do you think about it…?

May 21, 2007
New Report from Harvard Law School Human Rights Clinic Indicates Distorted
Perception of Violence, Crime, and Security in Paraguay
In Paraguay, false tension between human rights and insecurity has undermined
policy, leading to precipitous revision of its criminal codes, report says.

Asunción, Paraguay ¬- A new report issued by the International Human Rights
Clinic at Harvard Law School and the Universidad Columbia in Asunción,
Paraguay stresses the need for accurate and realistic information on
criminality in Paraguay, and criticized Paraguayan politicians and media
sources for failing to address the underlying causes of insecurity in the
country.

The report, “Security in Paraguay: Analysis and Responses in Comparative
Perspective,” calls for greatly improved statistical information gathering
within the National Police and Public Ministry regarding crime, and urges an
end to calls for a return to harsher, more authoritarian practices and policies
on crime without an analysis of trends in criminality. The report encourages
support for the full implementation of criminal justice reforms originally
passed in 1997-98 that guaranteed rights to a speedy trial, public and oral
hearings, and procedural efficiency.
“The failure to protect victims of crime and a general sentiment that the
state is often absent, in addition to the lack of access to justice, have led
to a sense of powerlessness in the face of criminality,” said Soledad
Villagra de Biedermann, independent expert in human rights of the United
Nations and co-editor of the report in Asunción. “To respond to this
problem, policymakers have chosen hasty, sensationalist measures to combat
crime.  Policies aimed at protecting defendants’ rights or addressing the root
causes of criminality are dismissed as ‘soft’ on crime, undermining the
important benefits that criminal justice reforms have yielded in Paraguay,
including increased judicial efficiency and a reduction in pretrial detention
rates”
The report draws on both historical and comparative contexts in analyzing
Paraguay’s criminal justice system, noting that decades of authoritarian rule,
a troubled transition to democracy, lingering corruption, and nepotism have
made it difficult for Paraguay to establish an effective and efficient criminal
justice system. The report also suggests that certain policing practices being
considered by the Paraguayan government – including relying on private security
forces and promoting the excessive use of force – have actually been shown to be
associated with rising insecurity and crime in other Latin American countries.
“As a comparative analysis shows, policing practices that encourage
cooperation within the community, deploy law enforcement personnel in a careful
and targeted matter, and promote coordination with prosecutors and other
criminal justice institutions are the successful components to achieving higher
rates of citizen security,” said Professor James Cavallaro, Clinical Professor
at Harvard Law School and co-editor of the report. “These types of measures
have produced positive results in socio-economic contexts similar to that of
Paraguay, and have shown potential for reducing crime.”
Among the report’s additional recommendations are:
•    Develop reliable methods for gathering statistics within the various
criminal justice institutions and coordinate data analysis among them;
•    Provide greater support for the 911 emergency system, which has made
important advances in improving the way police interact with communities;
•    Address overcrowding in detention centers by promoting the use of
alternative sanctions to imprisonment;
•    Promote projects that support at risk youth and provide effective
alternatives to crime and violence.

 

To read the report in its entirety, visit
http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp. The report will be available at this
URL after May 21, 2007 at 12:00 pm (EST).
For more information or media interviews, please contact Prof. Jim Cavallaro at
+011-595-991-885-606, or Michael Jones at 617-495-9214 or
mijones@law.harvard.edu.
Website: http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp

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It’s about Love…

 

I talked to my friends today and they told me that the situation is getting worse in Paraguay, my brother told me that affront of our house in Paraguay people are searching the garbage can for food, people are literally dying of hunger =(

That saddens me a lot, knowing the country I love is going thru this terrible economical situation, and is always becoming more dangerous than before.

My father asked me why I love Paraguay knowing that it is a country in “decadence” as he called it…I explained to him that I don’t love a country or a person because it is perfect or because its beauty. I don’t condition my love to any adjective, I won’t love it less because it is in “decadence” or more because it’s prosper. Love for me is not related to a good or bad quality, love is unconditional, otherwise it wouldn’t be love, If you relate your love to a condition or a situation, it is certainly not love.

Once I love, it is forever, there is no a possible thing that could change that, it’s  a switch that I cannot rewind, I certainly cannot unlove and my love in this case for Paraguay is not giving lightly for sure. (that’s the main reason for this blog).

I’m a person of deep feelings, I can change my mind about many things and I think that is part of progress. I’m open to changes and that attitude if of an intelligent mind but I can not change feelings, it is not under my control and I’m glad it is not… lately I’m starting to let myself feel more and think less.

 Love and faith have no reasonable explanation, and my love is unconditional. Period.

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Independence Party Seattle

To remember our independence day we had a nice celebration at a friends house in Seattle, we meet with other Paraguayans living here and enjoyed a great Asado (traditional barbecue), sopa Paraguayan (a corn bread alike, very yummy) and beers, all at the Paraguayan style, I will try to upload the video on youtube to share it with you soon.

It was really nice to see them and share the same language and accent, slang (yopara), same culture and traditions with people that even if you don’t know them well (most of them are very new in town) there is always a connection point with them.

I was happy to celebrate our Independence day hoping to find a much safer, better and healthier Paraguay in the near future.

I surely enjoyed that Asado very much.

To Make and Charlie: Thanks a lot for coming up with this great idea and open the doors of your home to Celebrate this special day.

Paraguay Independence : May 14- 15th 1811

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May 15th Independence Day (…a little bit of history behind it)

 

The Viceroyalty of Peru and the Audiencia of Charcas had nominal authority over Paraguay, while Madrid largely neglected the colony. Madrid preferred to avoid the intricacies and the expense of governing and defending a remote colony that had shown early promise but ultimately proved to have dubious value. Thus, governors of Paraguay had no royal troops at their disposal and were instead dependent on a militia composed of colonists. Paraguayans took advantage of this situation and claimed that the 1537 cédula gave them the right to choose and depose their governors. The colony, and in particular the Asunción municipal council (cabildo), earned the reputation of being in continual revolt against the crown.

Tensions between royal authorities and settlers came to a head in 1720 over the status of the Jesuits, whose efforts to organize the Indians had denied the settlers easy access to Indian labor. A full-scale rebellion, known as the Comuñero Revolt, broke out when the viceroy in Lima reinstated a pro-Jesuit governor whom the settlers had deposed. The revolt was in many ways a rehearsal for the radical events that began with independence in 1811. The most prosperous families of Asunción (whose yerba maté and tobacco plantations competed directly with the Jesuits) initially led this revolt. But as the movement attracted support from poor farmers in the interior, the rich abandoned it and soon asked the royal authorities to restore order. In response, subsistence farmers began to seize the estates of the upper class and drive them out of the countryside. A radical army nearly captured Asunción and was repulsed, ironically, only with the help of Indian troops from the Jesuit reducciones.

The revolt was symptomatic of decline. Since the refounding of Buenos Aires in 1580, the steady deterioration in the importance of Asunción contributed to growing political instability within the province. In 1617 the Río de la Plata Province was divided into two smaller provinces: Paraguay, with Asunción as its capital, and Río de la Plata, with headquarters in Buenos Aires. With this action, Asunción lost control of the Río de la Plata Estuary and became dependent on Buenos Aires for maritime shipping. In 1776 the crown created the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata; Paraguay, which had been subordinate to Lima, now became an outpost of Buenos Aires. Located at the periphery of the empire, Paraguay served as a buffer state. The Portuguese blocked Paraguayan territorial expansion in the north, Indians blocked it–until their expulsion–in the south, and the Jesuits blocked it in the east. Paraguayans were forced into the colonial militia to serve extended tours of duty away from their homes, contributing to a severe labor shortage.

Because Paraguay was located far from colonial centers, it had little control over important decisions that affected its economy. Spain appropriated much of Paraguay’s wealth through burdensome taxes and regulations. Yerba maté, for instance, was priced practically out of the regional market. At the same time, Spain was using most of its wealth from the New World to import manufactured goods from the more industrialized countries of Europe, notably Britain. Spanish merchants borrowed from British merchants to finance their purchases; merchants in Buenos Aires borrowed from Spain; those in Asunción borrowed from the porteños (as residents of Buenos Aires were called); and Paraguayan peones (landless peasants in debt to landlords) bought goods on credit. The result was dire poverty in Paraguay and an increasingly impoverished empire.

The French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the subsequent war in Europe inevitably weakened Spain’s ability to maintain contact with and defend and control its colonies. When British troops attempted to seize Buenos Aires in 1806, the attack was repulsed by the city’s residents, not by Spain. Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1808, the capture of the Spanish king, Ferdinand VII (ruled 1808, 1814-33), and Napoleon’s attempt to put his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the Spanish throne, severed the major remaining links between metropolis and satellite. Joseph had no constituency in Spanish America. Without a king, the entire colonial system lost its legitimacy, and the colonists revolted. Buoyed by their recent victory over British troops, the Buenos Aires cabildo deposed the Spanish viceroy on May 25, 1810, vowing to rule in the name of Ferdinand VII.

The porteño action had unforseen consequences for the histories of Argentina and Paraguay. News of the events in Buenos Aires at first stunned the citizens of Asunción, who had largely supported the royalist position. But no matter how grave the offenses of the ancien régime may have been, they were far less rankling to the proud Paraguayans than the indignity of being told to take orders from the porteños. After all, Paraguay had been a thriving, established colony when Buenos Aires was only a squalid settlement on the edge of the empty pampas.

The porteños bungled their effort to extend control over Paraguay by choosing José Espínola y Peña as their spokesman in Asunción. Espínola was “perhaps the most hated Paraguayan of his era,” in the words of historian John Hoyt Williams. Espínola’s reception in Asunción was less than cordial, partly because he was closely linked to rapacious policies of the ex-governor, Lázaro de Rivera, who had arbitrarily shot hundreds of his citizens until he was forced from office in 1805. Barely escaping a term of exile in Paraguay’s far north, Espínola fled back to Buenos Aires and lied about the extent of porteño support in Paraguay, causing the Buenos Aires cabildo to make an equally disastrous move. In a bid to settle the issue by force, the cabildo sent 1,100 troops under General Manuel Belgrano to subdue Asunción. Paraguayan troops soundly thrashed the porteños at Paraguarí and Tacuarí. Officers from both armies, however, fraternized openly during the campaign. From these contacts the Paraguayans came to realize that Spanish dominance in South America was coming to an end, and that they, and not the Spaniards, held the real power.

If the Espínola and Belgrano affairs served to whet nationalist passions in Paraguay, the Paraguayan royalists’ ill-conceived actions that followed inflamed them. Believing that the Paraguayan officers who had whipped the porteños posed a direct threat to his rule, Governor Bernardo de Velasco dispersed and disarmed the forces under his command and sent most of the soldiers home without paying them for their eight months of service. Velasco previously had lost face when he fled the battlefield at Paraguarí, thinking Belgrano would win. Discontent spread, and the last straw was the request by the Asunción cabildo for Portuguese military support against Belgrano’s forces, who were encamped just over the border in present-day Argentina. Far from bolstering the cabildo‘s position, this move instantly ignited an uprising and the overthrow of Spanish authority in Paraguay on May 14 and 15, 1811.

NOTE: The information regarding Paraguay on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Paraguay INDEPENDENCE AND DICTATORSHIP information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Paraguay INDEPENDENCE AND DICTATORSHIP should be addressed to the Library of Congress

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Ready, set, go!

This week I was very consistent with my goal to lose some weight before going to Paraguay, as a good Paraguayan I always leave things for the last minute, shame on me, but that is certainly a build in feature already, maybe to work towards a deadline approaching is more exciting, lol

As I’m pretend to eat all these awesome foods there I need to lose some weight to not come back rolling like a ball.

Besides my usual workout routine (Mon and wed) I started to add more cardio and weights and machines.

For the cardio I usually just go to the park near by and run and it is impressive how much improvement I see in my resistance to run, at first I was week and slow and was tired after a couple of minutes, yesterday I could run one entire round without stopping, maybe it is not much but in comparison it is a huge improvement.

During my runs when I’m tired I stop and do some abs that are working amazingly good and some leg and butt exercises on the floor in the park, I may look funny, but who cares?

Obviously I also watch what I’m eating, not too much sugars or pastries (that is hard to give up) and not much fats (that is easier for me than leave sweets)…

I’m driven by a goal and I hope to reach it before my trip, If not, at least I would have enjoyed the process :-)

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38 days to go!

I’m getting very excited counting the days to go, and I still have sooo many things to do around here, things and gifts to buy and that can be a little frustrating since I have to remember all of my friends and family and I never have enough space in my suitcases to take all what I got, usually airlines just allow 2 suitcases of 50 pounds and 1 carryon piece of 40 pounds, I already have 2 suitcases full…BTW, I’m going to stay around 2 months in Paraguay.

These days have been very busy, besides the normal activities, there are so many meetings and parties going on, I’m currently having a really busy social life, which is very cool, it feels like a community already, and I missed that feeling.

I was thinking yesterday about the things I would definitely do in Paraguay this time and I will name a few…fun fun stuff, take a look.

1- Keep this blog updated in a semi diary style, with anecdotes, stories, activities, my day to day in Paraguay.

2- I’m thinking about including some interviews of regular people (not famous ones) and translate it to English, so It will be cool if you send me some suggestions about that, maybe you want me to interview some person in particular I will try to do that.

3- Take plenty of pictures to share with you, keep doing my Asuncion photo essay with Jorge Saenz and maybe participate again in a Photo Exhibit like last year.

4- Visit Historic places and cities I never visited before, some are Atyra, Yaguaron, Missiones Jesuiticas, Caraguatay, Vapor Cue, the new Municipal Theather, among other places.

5- Eat empanadas, asados, chipa guazu, sopa paraguaya…among other great Paraguayan food. (unfortunately I can’t share that with you, but I can post some recipes)

6- Get involved in a community project to help children at REMAR and/or other foundations, try to get some donations for them, so if you know someone how likes to help please let me know, I will personally get involved in that and there is so much to do and to learn from these little children.

7- Study Guarani (time permitting)

8- Visit family and friends which I love!

9- Go to Luque to let create my New Silver Filigrana (Filigree)  jewelry collection. I can’t wait! I’m so excited to get my Collection done in Luque, it will be made of gold and Silver Filigree, plain silver and a combinations with stones, specially Larimar, It will be so beautiful, I already have the drawings! 

10- Enjoy the blue sky at Asunción del Paraguay, capital de mis amores!!

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Paraguay Cheap and GOOD Phone calls.

The one thing that always bothered me was the difficulty to find a good calling service to Paraguay, most are VOIP (voice over IP) meaning that the voice goes over the Internet and reach a local phone and the result is a very poor phone connection.

I tried pinzoo, ipsmile and some cards like uni Washington among others, all with very poor connection quality. Yesterday I came across another one called Llama Paraguay and I just tried it and the quality is very good, it has a little bit of eco but it is way superior than the others, and equally cheap.

That would be my best shot to call Paraguay from Abroad, I hope it works for you as well as it did for me! Enjoy =)

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Who pays?!

After spending almost 5 years here in the USA I have adquire some new habits and forgot some old ones which is normal with the passing of time…

I recall that the last time I went to Paraguay on vacation I was invited by a friend to a local pub (Britannia pub), he ordered a bunch of stuff (most of it we didn’t even eat) and some drinks, even though it was not expensive considering the amount of food he ordered I offered share the check with him.

He gave me a strange look, he was almost offended by my offer, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my offer to split the check, then he said to me: We are not in the United States…then it all made sense to me, I remember that in the latin culture, men invite, even though if the actually don’t invite you they pretty much always pay the check for the ladies anyway.

Nowadays I could observe a little change of the situation, sometimes big parties split the bills but usually the men pay for the ladies in the party.

When I’m in Paraguay I let my friends pay for me (it’s a cultural thing)  but I often make sure and insist to treat them and I’m so glad when they happily accept my invitation =-)

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