Friday, September 17, 2010


As I have mentioned before, my site is pretty well removed from the nearest paved road. Several
hours to the north and south, I am surrounded by a sea of red dirt (or mud when it rains) and expansive grassy fields. However, I recently discovered a 12km stretch of asphalt just south of the city on what will someday be a paved international Ruta 8 through the county connecting Argentina to Bolivia and Brazil. So, why this one stretch of asphalt without any connections to any other paved roads? Although I can't really say at this point one way or the other, it looks like there are 2 predominant theories.

1) Politics- Paraguay does not have the best track record for political transparency. Transparency International ranks Paraguay at 150/180 countries (2.1), and was considered the most corrupt country in South America for several years in the running (2nd in all of the Americas only after Haiti). While things are certainly improving, political corruption continues to be a struggle. Thus Peace Corps' focus on civic education and public participation as part of Community Economic Development. Also explaining the reason why many people in town feel that the small stretch of asphalt south of my site was installed without a connection to any larger town (including my town). Apparently, so says the chisme, it has something to do with a political favor from the past. Who knows?!?!

2) This road has been under construction for at least the last 5 years (I've got Peace Corps Volunteer reports from several years back talking about this process back when they were here on service), and they've decided in that time to have the paved highway go around the city rather than through the city to maintain the tranquilo atmosphere and safety in town. The with start of a new international highway, it could really ruin the environment! So, the pavement stopped to be redirected at some future date. Eventually they'll finish it up, but probably not for another several years.

Long and short of the story, lack of asphalt has been a point of contention in this town for decades and continues to be central to many discussions of development today. The challenge- get the job of development done with or without it.

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