Friday, July 8, 2011

Paraguay #4: Electric Joy in the House of Peace

Electric Joy.  That's about what it takes to keep me awake at 11:34pm when I am waking up at 3:30am tomorrow morning to get in a van with everyone to head out on a long road trip.

Marcelino, one of our partners who was
tortured for his work during
the Stroessner dictatorship
The source? Today we met with our five partners in Paraguay at Casa de la Paz (House of Peace), a center owned by one of them.  Just the other day it housed campesina women and their children for a meeting in Asuncion attended by 176 people.  

Our own meeting was supposed to last until five but we were still going by six-thirty.  Maria took over translation when our time with the appointed translator ran out.  As they shared their work with us, we talked politics, agriculture, human rights and democracy.  One of our partners managed to gain 140 seats in different muncipal governments to advance pro-campesino policies.  We lamented over stats such as a 1.5 billion dollar soy industry in the country that is taxed at 2% (versus 32% in Argentina). It became clearer to us how urban poverty is created by rural flight to cities and what our partners are doing to help keep people on the land.  Another partner shared about their anti-militarization campaigns, teaching young people about the Conscientious Objection process and supporting those who go through it. It went on and on.

At one point my mother said, "Even though we had researched your work before coming here, everything changes when we hear directly from your hearts.  This is how we come to REALLY know what your work is."

After, we shared our work in Canada with them.  It was well-received. Some said, "We can tell you in Canada are motivated by the same Spirit that drives us."  This is the Spirit of Solidarity and its fruit is Electric Joy.

Group Shot with our Paraguayan Partners

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