ASUNCION—Three former presidents, leaders of the legislature and judiciary, and other national leaders of modern Paraguay solemnly renewed their commitment to the democratic process at a celebration of Paraguay’s bicentennial at the historic Hotel Guarani in Asunción on May 6, 2011.
Paraguay’s leaders were invited to the national unity bicentennial celebration by the Instituto de Desarrollo de Pensamiento Patria Soñada (IDPPS), a think-tank created by the Global Peace Foundation. In addition to the former presidents, 3 former vice presidents, the president of the Constitution Convention of 1992, 4 former presidents of the National Congress, 6 former presidents of the Supreme Court, the current president of the National Congress, the mayor of Asuncion, the president of the Football Association of Latin America, and former ministers and leaders from the private sector attended the celebration.
Leaders of modern Paraguay at the bicentenial event Paraguay’s modern era began in 1989, following the overthrow of General Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled Paraguay as a dictator from 1954 to 1989. During this time political opposition suffering harsh repression and the regime was blamed for wide-spread human rights abuses.
Especially remarkable was that some attending the celebration had been political enemies for many years, and this was the first time they sat together at one event and with a common purpose. The program was covered live by a major television channel and reported extensively in all of the nation’s media.
This bicentennial event and the signing of the “Ratification of Democratic Commitment” was the result of an unprecedented earlier convocation held in Paraguay in October 2010 during the Global Peace Festival. The event drew both national and international attention due to the signing of the Declaration of Asunción by distinguished leaders from inside and outside the continent. The spirit of that declaration, which elaborates the universal principles and values that must be the bedrock of any future roadmap for the nation and region, provided the guidelines for the new declaration.
In his speech, the president of IDPPS, Dr. Jose Altamirano, moved the audience as he summarized the single most important result of Paraguay’s 200-year existence as a nation, as well as the 20-year period since the ouster of President Stroessner. In spite of all the good and the bad, light and darkness, political strains and discord, he said, “what everyone in the room can be proud of and celebrate today is the fact that Paraguay has maintained and fully institutionalized the democratic process.” He called on everyone in the room to set aside their differences, and work together to make Paraguay a model nation for the world.
Following the celebration, many commented that this was the most significant political/civic event of the entire month-long series of bicentennial celebrations taking place across the country.
“Ratification of our Democratic Commitment”
On the Bicentennial of National Independence
We, as signatories of this declaration, being fully aware of our weaknesses and strengths, in our capacities as President of the National Constituent Convention of 1992, Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Executive Branch, Presidents of the Legislative Branch and Presidents of the Judicial Branch from the promulgation of the National Constitution of 1992 to the year 2011, solemnly state that:
Our work was oriented towards God. As a matter of fact, while conducting our work, God was invoked and human dignity was recognized as a supreme value. Likewise, an effort was made to ensure the protection of freedom, equality and justice and to consolidate the desire of having a democratic, republican, representative, participatory and pluralistic State governed by the Rule of Law that tends to provide access to a higher level of welfare and a better quality of life for the inhabitants of this glorious land.
We hope that on the Bicentennial of our independence, all Paraguayans and those who are settled in the Republic of Paraguay, make a joint effort and reinforce these values so that they can be fully protected in the country, and that we always and honestly turn to dialogue to settle our differences and live a culture of peace, while being aware that the construction of our nation’s future depends on these premises, as well as permanent training, the fruitful work and the respect to others without any need for violence.
As privileged key players in leading this period of our history, with its lights and shadows, we recognize that this is our nation’s longest period of democratic rule, having overcome a time of anarchy and authoritarianism; and as such, it is this legacy that we offer to our countrymen to joyfully and optimistically celebrate the 200 hundred anniversary of our nation’s birth.
Asunción, May 2011