PARAGVAJ – PARAGUAY

Nacionalna palata-National Pantheon of the Heroes

Nacionalna palata-National Pantheon of the Heroes

Predsednicka palata u glavnom gradu-The Lopez Presidential Palace at Asuncion

Predsednicka palata u glavnom gradu-The Lopez Presidential Palace at Asuncion

Reka Parana i grad  Ciudad del Este-Parana River and Ciudad del Este

Reka Parana i grad Ciudad del Este-Parana River and Ciudad del Este

Ulaz u Panteon-Entrance in Pantheon

Ulaz u Panteon-Entrance in Pantheon

Ulaz u Paragvaj-Entering the country

Ulaz u Paragvaj-Entering the country

Ulicni suveniri-Street souvenirs

Ulicni suveniri-Street souvenirs

Zeleznicka stanica u Asunsionu-Asuncion train station

Zeleznicka stanica u Asunsionu-Asuncion train station

Autobus za glavni grad-A bus heading to the capital

Autobus za glavni grad-A bus heading to the capital

Drvo zakaranda u cvetu kraj predsednicke palate-Jacaranda in bloom by the Presidental Palace

Drvo zakaranda u cvetu kraj predsednicke palate-Jacaranda in bloom by the Presidental Palace

Hotel Guarani

Hotel Guarani

Katedrala u glavnom gradu-Cathedral of Asuncion

Katedrala u glavnom gradu-Cathedral of Asuncion

Kolonijalne zgrade u Asunsionu-Colonial buildings in Asuncion

Kolonijalne zgrade u Asunsionu-Colonial buildings in Asuncion

Lep kolonijalni stil-Beautiful colonial style

Lep kolonijalni stil-Beautiful colonial style

Zarobljene u sredini kontinenta, između ostalih latinoameričkih zemalja, Paragvaj i Bolivija su jedine zemlje u ovom regionu koje nemaju izlaz na more. Paragvaj zato nazivaju i srcem Amerike. Dugo je ležao zatočen u svojoj konzervativnoj prošlosti, vojnoj diktaturi, strahu od komunizma, skrivanju nacističkih zločinaca. Bila je to zemlja o kojoj se veoma malo znalo, pored ostalog i o tome da se neko vreme u njoj krio zloglasni doktor Mengele, zvani Anđeo smrti. Tadašnji diktator Alfredo Stresner bio je poreklom Nemac i pod njegovom zaštitom mnogi nacisti našli su utočište u Paragvaju.
Prelazim preko ogromnog mosta na reci Parana, koja mirno teče ispod njega. Kao da ne očekuje da će se, nedaleko od tog mesta, ispod nje otvoriti zemlja i pretvoriti u džinovsku pukotinu. Tu nastaju Iguasu vodopadi, jedni od najimpresivnijih na svetu, koji se nalaze na tromeđi Argentine, Brazila i Paragvaja.  Na mostu, kao da niko toga nije svestan, kao da to nikoga ne zanima. Svi su krenuli u potragu za nekim malim biznisom na paragvajskoj strani, u gradić lepog imena – Istočni grad, Ciudad del Este. Reka ljudi prelazi most, na kome se na jednom kraju nalazi brazilska, a na drugom paragvajska pogranična policija, koje kao da ne zanima ko sve tuda prolazi. Ne bi ni mogli da obave kontrolu nad tom beskonačnom rekom ljudi i vozila, koja skoro nikada ne prestaje da protiče. Svako je krenuo na svoju stranu, ali svi putevi pre toga vode u Istočni grad, u tu veliku bescarinsku zonu, u kojoj preovladava kineska roba. I svako tu ima neki, samo njemu znani, interes koji ga primorava da prenosi robu sa jedne strane na drugu stranu, u potrazi za neznatnom zaradom.
Brojni autobusi sa natpisom Asunción dolaze ovde iz glavnog grada Paragvaja, koji se veoma razlikuje od ovde viđenog. To je tiha prestonica iz kolonijalnog perioda, koja je prerasla u moderan grad. Inače, njegovo potpuno ime skoro sigurno je najduže na svetu: La Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción. Jedan je od najstarijih gradova u Južnoj Americi još iz davne 1537. godine, mesto polaska kolonijalnih ekspedicija u osvajanje ovih teritorija, ali i među prvim gradovima u kojima je narod ustao protiv španske kolonijalne vlasti u Južnoj Americi.  Smešten je na obali reke Paragvaj, nasuprot Argentine, gde uživa u svojoj tropskoj klimi tokom cele godine, kao i u prostranim zelenim parkovima, kontrastima moderne i kolonijalne arhitekture, ali i u fudbalu, kao glavnoj nacionalnoj opsesiji.

Avgust 2006.
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Landlocked in the centre of this continent, between other Latin American countries, Paraguay and Bolivia are the only countries in the region without access to the sea. That is why Paraguay has been called the ‘heart of America.’ Paraguay has been confined for a long time in its conservative past, its military dictatorship and a fear of communism, while providing refuge to Nazi war criminals. It used to be a country that no one knew much about, including the fact that the notorious Dr Mengele, called the Angel of Death, was hiding there for a while. The dictator at the time was Alfredo Stroessner, who was of German descent, hence many Nazis found a sanctuary in Paraguay under his protection.
I cross the huge bridge over the Paraná River which flows peacefully below. There is nothing to suggest that, not far from here, the Earth opens into a gigantic chasm beneath the river’s flow. This is where one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, the Iguaçu Waterfalls come into existence, at the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. People crossing the bridge seem unaware of this, as though this is of no concern to them whatsoever. They have all come in search of business opportunities to the Paraguayan side, to the beautifully named Eastern City, Ciudad del Este. The river of people cross the bridge which is manned by the Brazilian border police at one end and with the Paraguayan one at the other; they do not seem to be interested in who is crossing over. Had they even wanted, they would not have been able to control the endless river of people and vehicles that never stops flowing. Everyone is going their own way, but all the routes lead to Eastern City first, this big duty free zone where Chinese goods are prevalent. And so everyone pursues their own interest, known only to them, while moving the goods from one side to the other, in search of a meagre profit.
Many buses come from Asunción, Paraguay’s capital city, which is very different from this place. It is a quiet capital from the colonial period which has grown into a modern city. The city’s full name is most likely one of the longest in the world – La Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción. One of the oldest cities in Latin America, dating back to 1537, it used to be a starting point for the colonial expeditions leading to the conquest of new territories, but it was also the city that, among the first, stood up against the Spanish colonial rule in Latin America. It is situated on the bank of the Paraguay River, opposite Argentina, enjoying its tropical climate all year round, as well as its vast green parks, contrasting modern and colonial architecture, but also football – a major national obsession.

August 2006

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