WIB Trip to Paraguay, 25 September - 7 October 2018
At the suggestion of Fatima Paniagua de Ojeda, the spouse of the Ambassador of Paraguay, WIB members took a 12-days trip to Latin America. Before the final destination in Paraguay, the group visited Buenos Aires first. They were warmly invited by the German Ambassador to Argentina, Jürgen Christian Mertens and his wife Cecilia who was also a longtime WIB member, to their residence for a friendly gathering with the partners of the local diplomats.
The first day itinerary was a visit to the up-and-coming capital of Asunción followed by a lunch with the current President, Mario Abdo Benítez who has only been in office since August 2018, In addition to the First Lady Silvana López Moreira, numerous ministers attended the event. It was a great introduction to wonderful hospitality of the ethnically diverse country with approximately 6% German-origin immigrants.
During the trip, the members learned about the culture of the indigenous native "Guarani”. Their language which is also called Guarani, is spoken at present by more than 80% of the population. As from 1610, the Jesuits offered the Guarani protection in reductions, intrigued them with baroque music and taught them the European craftsmanship. The richly decorated churches were inspired from baroque decoration where the Guirani described the plant and animal life which created a unique style. Today, the partly well preserved villages belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The further journey led the group through the vast swamplands, savannas and finally to the border of Argentina and Brazil which was crossed several times through subtropical forests. There lies the spectacular Iguazú Falls that consists of 20 large waterfalls and 255 smaller ones.
The travel program gave the members good insight into the country's economic performance. Since years, the economic growth is determined not only by cattle breeding, soybean and mate production, but also by the generation of 100% renewable energy that comes from the two huge bi-national hydropower plants Itaipú and Yacyretá.
On the last day, the German ambassador to Paraguay, Dr. Claudius Fischbach, invited the group to his residence where a special celebration of the Day of German Unity took place. The members once again had the opportunity to connect and have friendly chat with the Paraguayans. Many of them speak German fluently and hope for closer cooperation with Germany in addition to engage more in academic and economic exchange. The fascinating journey in this scenically and culturally diverse country that has not been discovered by mass tourism, will remain unforgettable.