Paraguayan Women’s Soccer Team

I woke up this morning to hear a special report about the Paraguayan Women’s Soccer Team on Only a Game (public radio show).  Nice report of the difficulty of girls wanting to play soccer in a country where the sport has been dominated by boys and men.  Take a look.

Paraguay is a Young Country

Here is an interesting and important piece about the youth of Paraguay.  According to a recent study 66% of the Paraguayan population is under 30 years of age. Radio Free Europe recently put out a map that shows that 32% of the Paraguayan population is less than 14 years of age. This makes Paraguay one of the youngest countries in the world and ahead of most Latin American countries.  In South American only Bolivia at 35% and Guyana at 36% have younger populations. That presents a real challenge and opportunity for the country.  One particular challenge is education.  Given the educational disparities it will be difficult to provide all of the countries youth a 21st Century education.  If a family has resources, you can get a world class education.  Otherwise it is a challenge.


Kansas American Youth Leadership Program Delegation

The Kansas delegation of American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) 2014, and family members, got acquainted June 23 evening. We appreciate the hospitality of KPP and especially Tina Williams at International House, Washburn University. Five youth from Topeka and Stilwell Kansas are part of 21 from 7 states who will travel to Washington and Paraguay during July. AYLP engages with new cultures to increase leadership skills and promote volunteer community service. It is funded by the US Dept. of State through Partners of the Americas. Comite Py Kansas will host in PY. Steve Richards is one of 3 mentors with the group.

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Paraguayan Mother and Son are Reunited

This is a nice Mother’s Day story about a Paraguayan mother who came to the US to be a nanny to send money home to her family.  Even as a nurse in Paraguay her family struggled financially.  Unfortunately too many Paraguayan women have had to leave their families and country to send back money.  The Paraguayan economy is doing fairly well now and here is hoping that this will produce more good jobs so this type of emigration is less common.


Democracy in Action?

I tend to avoid Paraguayan political stories.  I know that I never know the whole story. Things are just too complex and Kansas-Paraguay Partners is about mutual understanding not taking sides in political matters.  However the story that has been widely reported in ABC Color and other papers is just too interesting and more about the emerging democracy than supporting a political position.  It may be that social media and new political activism have made the Paraguayan Congress reconsider a decision.  Part of the story is that business establishments have refused to serve the 23 senators that voted to support a colleague. Is this a tactic we could adopt in the north?  Take a look at this BBC report on the matter.

How Volunteer Organizations Get the Work Done: Some Examples from KPP


Kansas-Paraguay Partners is an all volunteer organization.  That means that what gets accomplished happens because someone steps up and helps make it happen.  The above picture is a short history of some significant KPP people and projects.  From right to left (I know that is backwards).

Alberto Granada who is visiting Kansas is a long time active member, officer and volunteer for Comite Paraguay Kansas.  For many years Alberto was the go to person for Paraguayans wanting to study in Kansas.  Many Paraguayans who have studied in Kansas credit Alberto for helping make it happen. Alberto was always there to host those from Kansas who traveled to Paraguay.  He opened his house, his heart and his calendar to make it possible for visitors to accomplish their goals He was also a main person behind the KPP-CPK tours to Paraguay and other countries in South America.   That is just the tip of the iceberg of Alberto’s involvement  with CPK.

Edith Black was the go to person for Paraguayan students studying at the University of Kansas for many years.  She kept track of student on the ‘list’, helped many move into their dorms and hosted meriendas to get to meet students and have them meet each other.

John Poertner was able to spend a year in Paraguay by combining a sabbatical from the University of Kansas with a special volunteer experience through the Peace Corps.  He is also the past president of KPP.

Charlie Stansifer was the originator of the agreement to allow Paraguayan students to study at Kansas Regents universities for in-state tuition.  Through this program hundreds of Paraguayans have studied in Kansas and returned home to make a significant impact on Paraguay.  Charlie also started the KPP-CPK Scholarship Fund that provides a scholarship each year to a Paraguayan to study in Kansas and a Kansan to study in Paraguay.

Mary Miller was an active member of the League of Women Voters when she teamed up with KPP member Nan Wilson to work with Women for Democracy.  This was a Paraguayan organization that promoted democracy when Paraguay was just beginning to develop democratic institutions.

This is a short and inadequate part of KPP history.  Shortly a much more detailed history will be available. Stay tuned.

United States Supreme Court and Paraguay

The United States Supreme Court decision on the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) that was announced Wednesday has an interesting background related to Paraguay.  The Paraguayan case ( Filartiga v. Pena-Irala,) led to an important decision in US law.  I am not a lawyer but I think that the current court has reversed direction on the ATS.

The following material from Wikipedia is consistent with what I have previously read so it seems to be trustworthy.  There is also a very good book about the Filartiga case but I can’t remember or retrieve the title or author.  If anyone out there knows the book, please post a comment with the reference.

The Alien Tort Statute was part of the Judiciary Act of 1789.[2] There is little surviving legislative history regarding the Act, and its original meaning and purpose are uncertain.[3][4] However, scholars have surmised that the Act was intended to assure foreign governments that the U.S. would act to prevent and provide remedies for breaches of customary international law, especially breaches concerning diplomats and merchants.[5]

In 1980, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, which “paved the way for a new conceptualization of the ATS”.[8] In Filartiga, two Paraguayan citizens resident in the U.S., represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, brought suit against a Paraguayan former police chief who was also living in the United States.[9] The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had tortured and murdered a member of their family, and they asserted that U.S. federal courts had jurisdiction over their suit under the ATS. The district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, holding that the “law of nations” does not regulate a state’s treatment of its own citizens.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed. First, it held that the ATS, which allowed jurisdiction in the federal courts over a suit between two aliens, was a constitutional exercise of Congress’s power, because “the law of nations…has always been part of the federal common law“, and thus the statute fell within federal-question jurisdiction.[10] Second, the court held that the contemporary law of nations had expanded to prohibit state-sanctioned torture. The court found that multilateral treaties and domestic prohibitions on torture evidenced a consistent state practice of proscribing official torture. The court similarly found that United Nations declarations such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights manifested an expectation of adherence to the prohibition of official torture. The court therefore held that the right to be free from torture had become a principle of customary international law. However, one of the judges on the panel hearing the case later wrote that Filartiga “should not be misread or exaggerated to support sweeping assertions that all (or even most) international human rights norms found in the Universal Declaration or in international human rights treaties have ripened into customary international law enforceable in the domestic courts”.[11]

Since Filartiga, jurisdiction under the ATS has been upheld in dozens of cases.[12] Until now.


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