The 'Doctor of Democracy' meets his match

Ciudad del Este Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 17 › view all entries
I believe one of my favorite quotes on this study abroad trip is going to be, “Paraguay is Rush Limbauh’s paradise; It is a completely free market with no government supervision, let alone interaction.” That is a fair description of this tiny country, roughly the size of Uruguay but with exactly the opposite sentiment. The country was founded on corruption. Historically the area surrounding Foz de Iguaçu- the joint of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil- was occupied by the indigenous Guarani people. Their name, Guarani means “warrior,” and warriors they were. They were tempted away from their traditional nomadic lifestyle in the rainforests between the Parana River and the Amazon basin by the Jesuits who taught them their sins. After becoming successful converts and building productive subsistence agriculture communities the Guarani were dealt a raw deal. Due to bureaucratic motives in Europe, the Jesuits were forced to abandon the mission and leave the peoples to be forced into slavery or fight back. As true warriors, most of the Guarani chose to fight, but the gunpowder and sheer numbers of the Europeans proved fatal. The Guarani were sold into slavery with only a few escaping into the jungle. Today, all that remains of the tribe is a small community “protected” by the government that is partially integrated into modern society. The country developed along side its South American neighbors, until the devastation of the War of the Triple Alliance in 1865-1870. Usually, I make a point to never mention dates, but these dates stuck in my head because in that short five-year span, Paraguay lost 85% of its male population! It became world renowned as a true Tropical paradise because the ratio of men to women was 3:1 respectively. This shift had tremendous social effects on the country, and personally, I feel that combined with corruption the country was never able to recover. More recently, the reign of three despicable and laughable dictators: Francia, Moringo Stroessner has forced the country into a cycle of mafia like military control and unethical business practices. The region is still under an implied hand of reign by the military, with Mongolanesque plunders as punishment for the political uprisings. Ninety percent of the cars are stolen from Argentina and Brazil. It was even said that there was a scandal involving the presidents car last year- it was apparently found to be stolen from a wealthy Argentine! Another ridiculous tidbit is that something like thirty to forty percent of the Gross Domestic Product is contraband and goods smuggled in by the military. I’m not sure if it was the rough introduction to the country, the pollution, or the incessant rain, but I felt that Paraguay was the one country I didn’t like. I only went over for an afternoon, but the rain continued to come down until we departed the country- in a taxi crammed with twelve people, albeit. The river we crossed was brown and tumulus, like the people passing purposely through the streets. Men would cat call; children would beg for money or follow you around to get you to buy their can of Pringles. I have never felt so bombarded with menial imported goods in my life. I had hoped to buy some sort of electronic device… a camera or an IPOD. But, the prices were higher than in the United States and of course stolen goods don’t come with a warranty. My entire experience was inundated with cheap merchandise, vulgar people, and dirty water. I hope that El Rushbo will be able to get a taste of his dreams in Paraguay before making any more of an impression on American radio listeners.
keith5159 says:
Hey interesting travel blip. I only reccomend that you do not judge the country by the one area you visited. I have been to Ciudad Del Este and it was lets just say extremely interesting. But the true Paraguay exist in the west in Asuncion. There is a night and day difference where there is more culture, the people are more relaxed and there is a ton of history and historic sights to see. I have been all over South America, and Asuncion, is still by far the most interesting and unique city I have ever seen in my life.
--Keith
Posted on: Mar 03, 2008
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Ciudad del Este
photo by: pacovera