Asunción is a city of great history.
At one time, for nearly 200 years, it was the most important city of the continent but was replaced by Buenas Aires in 1776, the same year we in the USA declared our independence. Yesterday was the celebration of the 471 st anniversary of the founding of this city. It was also the day for inaugurating the newly elected president of the country.
The new president Fernando Lugo, an ex-catholic priest, has ran as a populist and is the first turn over from the long ruling party which has dominated Paraguayan government for 60 years. This is a celebrated moment by the Paraguayan people. Lugo promises to remain simple and approachable in his life style and manner. Let's hope he can! Certainly, our prayers go forth for wisdom as he assumes control of the government and will be bombarded with the many aspects of ruling a nation steeped in corruption.
In light of the inauguration and the anniversary, the city of Asunción was crowded and festive.
Many heads of states were in town for the ceremonies, including Hugo Chavez. He stayed at the Sheraton, of course. The security was heightened everywhere. Imagine my consternation! One week here, and guess who comes to town ?!
"La gente dice 'no te fíes tanto de Chávez, cuidado con Chávez, cuidado con Evo'. Yo no le tengo miedo a Chávez, no le tengo miedo a Evo, no le tengo miedo a nadie", dijo Lugo en su primera rueda de prensa tras su juramento.
"Paraguay hará su propio proceso. Muchos temen y tienen dudas: bueno, vamos a ser todos venezolanitos o ecuatorianitos o bolivianitos. No, vamos a ser paraguayos en verdad y vamos a tener relaciones respetuosas con todos", aseguró el ex obispo.
" People are telling me,'Don't pay attention to Chavez, careful with Chavez, be cautious of Evo'. I do not fear Chavez, I am not afraid of Evo, I am not afraid of anyone", said Lugo in his first press conference after his swearing in ceremony.
Paraguay will go through it's own process. Many fear and have doubts; (Thinking) we are all going to become little Venezuelans, or Ecuadoreans, or Bolivians. No, we are going to be Paraguayans in truth and we will have respectful relations with all.", assured the ex-bishop.
We chose to stay at home as everything was closed and very crowded in town. Since we still have not purchased a car, that was an easy choice, but we did watch much of the events on TV. Chavez was his normal jovial self. The one he presents to those around the world. Not the one we of Venezuela are accustomed to seeing and listening to, on Venezuelan TV while he holds the country hostage for his many hours of ranting on 'cadena'. 'Cadena' is the term used , it means 'chains' and that is how one feels as the government takes over all airways, radio and TV for up to 12 hours at a time.
During the military procession, the Paraguayan air force flew over our house. I only saw a few fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. The helicopters flew so low, and right over the house, I had to go outside to see! I had a few moments of trepidation, remembering some of our less than friendly encounters with military 'dropping' in on us via helicopter in the jungles of Venezuela!
But I AM NOT IN THE JUNGLE! It was just part of the show. Whew!
We spent the day with the two grand daughters while their parents took care of some ministry and visits. We ate out on our new patio which was very nice. It was a delight to have them here!