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Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Today was our last day in Paraguay. We started out the day by heading out to Itaugua which is known for its embroidery known as nanduti. We visited Tekojoja Kuna Rembiapope (Justice for the Women in her Work), a fair trade project of the Sisters of the Good Shepard. The project is called Handcrafting Justice. Their goals are to eliminate poverty and hunger, and to promote gender equality and women's autonomy. We met with the artisans Lucia who explained the fine nature of their work, and then Roberto, a Maka Indigenous person who works with handcrafts to make ends meet. He complained that Lugo promised to make helping Indigenous peoples one of his first priorities, but so far he has not done much. Even the head of the Indigenous Affairs Institute is open.

In the afternoon, Federico Tatter took us around to some of the recent historical sites in Asuncion and explained the recent political history of repression, starting with a 1947 civil war that brought the Colorado Party to power. A highlight on the tour was a visit to the spot on Ave Espana where an Argentine guerrilla group killed the former Nicaraguan dictator Anastacio Somoza in September 1980 after he fled to Paraguay in the aftermath of the Sandinista revolution.

In the evening, we returned to the Truth and Justice Commission office for a forum on disarming violence. School of the Americas Watch people from our delegation explained their mission, which launched a lengthy discussion of violence, Plan Colombia, and strategies for reducing violence. Joining in the conversation were relatives of the victims of a 2004 fire in a supermarket in Asuncion that killed 400 people. The guards had locked the doors so that no one could leave without paying for their groceries. Family members are fighting for justice in the case.

The evening ended with a despedida for Vidal. Now it's late, and I need to get to bed so that I can fly to Rio tomorrow for the LASA conference.

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