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Post Paraguay's Navy; on Guarani
Created by John Eipper on 02/28/15 5:05 AM

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Paraguay's Navy; on Guarani (Timothy Brown, USA, 02/28/15 5:05 am)

Both Bolivia and Paraguay have riverine navies, the larger being that of Paraguay. During my tour in Asunción, the Paraguayan Navy had, as I recall, six gunships and six Admirals.

Much of the Chaco war was fought by troops being resupplied via the river, protected by them. I came to know a senior Paraguayan Navy Captain quite well. His sport was volleyball, and on weekends our four children and I would join his team. Our three girls loved the sport and all three went on to play on their school teams, in San Salvador and then in Amsterdam. The oldest was selected for the Salvadoran National Team and was then Captain of their school team in Amsterdam when they won the European international school title. Senator Paul Laxalt appointed her to West Point, where in her first year she was Captain of the Academy's women team.

When I was transferred to Washington from Amsterdam to be Paraguay/Uruguay Desk officer, to both my personal surprise and professional advantage, my Captain-friend turned out to be the Paraguayan ambassador to the US. In Diplomarine I describe a couple of instances when our friendship made it possible to resolve bilateral problems, one of them involving two Croat terrorists. I don't mention how often we joined him and his staff in the mall near the State Department for weekend pick-up volleyball games, or his arranging for a Paraguayan trio to serenade at our daughters' weddings.

My only involvement with the Bolivian Navy took place in French Guiana when, en route back to Bolivia after having been refitted in the US, two of their riverboats made a port call there en route back to Bolivia via the Rio de Plata and Paraguay River, which was the only way they could return.

On the question of whether either is landlocked, both are. Both do export and import some goods via the Paraguay. But this requires their being transshipped, since there is a subsurface rock barrier that keeps ocean going ships from going upriver to Asunción. The lower Parana is probably navigable to an extent. But the Yacyreta-Apipe, not to mention the Itaipu, preclude even this, although both rivers can be crossed on ferries.

In an earlier posting, Paraguay's being essential bilingual in Guaraní first, Spanish second. During my time in Asunción I took lessons in Guaraní from a Paraguayan professor who also taught Guaraní in Brazil via TV. I never became fluent, of course. But being able to speak even a little Guaraní was always much appreciated, since it was the mother tongue even of President Stroessner, as I discovered one day when, as I was serving as interpreter during a meeting at the Presidential Palace, he became agitated and switched languages.

As for Guarani's impact on Paraguayan Spanish, one experience has stayed with me above all. Leda and I, having been guests at a military parade in downtown Asunción. were walking back to our car when I overheard a young Paraguayan girl say, rather excitedly; "¡Hay que fue tan lindo en grande! ¡Que muy mucho aplaudí!"

JE comments:  A shipment of WAISer books showed up from Amazon this week, and one of them is Tim Brown's Diplomarine.  As of today I'm on spring break, the perfect time to relax with some good reads!


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