Paraguayan americans

by Olivia Miller


Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America slightly smaller than California. It is bordered by the countries of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. The country is divided into two unequal portions by the Rio Paraguay, the third largest river in the western hemisphere and the one for which the country is named. Paraguay means the "Parrot river" (paragua -i). To the west of the river is the Chaco, an infertile and sparsely populated section that is 60 percent of the country's land area. To the east, 95 percent of the 5.2 million Paraguayans live near the major cities. The major cities include Asuncion, the capital and a commercial city and port; Encaracion, a railroad and agricultural center; Concepcion, a river port; Coronel Oviedo; and Caaguazu.

Paraguay's government is a republic with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Paraguay's national flag consists of three large stripes (red, white, and blue) arranged horizontally, with a seal in the center of the white stripe. The seal contains the words Paz y Justica (peace and justice) capped by the words Republica Del Paraguay, all within two circles.

The Eastern region comprises all of the national watershed systems along with the mountain ranges of Amambay, Mbaracayu, and Caaguazu, including Cerro San Rafael, Paraguay's highest peak at 2,788 feet. The region between the Paraguay and the Parana Rivers was once covered with rain forests. However, with the expansion of lumbering and farming activities, the forests are rapidly receding. At current rates of deforestation, virtually all of eastern Paraguay is expected to be stripped of its forestry cover by the year 2005.

Paraguay is home to a diverse wildlife population, including the Chocian peccary, which was thought to be extinct. Bird watchers are drawn from all over the world in search of species such as parrots, parakeets, hyacinth macaws, and wood storks. The western region, called the Chaco, is a vast, sparsely populated wildlife habitat with a plant and animal biodiversity comparable to the Amazon. The area has unlimited ecotourism potential. The Chaco population includes the Mennonites, a religious group of German and Canadian settlers.

The majority of Paraguayans are mestizos, descendants of the native Paraguayans ( Guaranis ) and the Spanish colonists. A bilingual county, Paraguay boasts that its citizens are the only national group in the Western Hemisphere that speaks an aboriginal language more widely than a European language. Continuing to speak Guarani, the native language, is the way Paraguayans distinguish themselves from the rest of South America.


Before the Europeans arrived, Guaranis lived in the southeastern part of the country in semi-nomadic tribes. Several hunter-gatherer groups, known as Guaycuru, lived in the western Chaco area. Native Paraguayans lived on fish and wild game, supplemented with a shifting agriculture of growing maize and mandioca. They named and knew the medicinal properties of more than a thousand species of plants. With the aid of Guaraní guides, Alejo García became the first European to cross Paraguay in 1524. The Spanish explorer Juan de Salazar founded Asuncion, the present-day capital, on the Feast Day of the Assumption, August 15, 1537. The Roman Catholic church of Spain sent Jesuit missionaries to subdue and civilize the Paraguayan natives.

In 1609, the Jesuits organized about 100,000 Guaranis into communal settlements called reducciones and for 150 years protected the native population from exploitation attempts by incoming colonial settlers. Between the middle of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, Paraguay was ruled by a succession of governors. Conflicts with the Spanish resulted in a royal decree in 1767 that banished the Jesuits.

The native Indian population gradually absorbed the Spaniards, who in turn adopted Guaraní food, language and customs. Over time, a Spanish-Guaraní society emerged, with Spaniards dominating politically, and the mestizo offspring adopting Spanish cultural values.


Paraguay declared its independence from Spain in 1811, and was ruled by José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, also known as "El Supremo." He sealed the country's borders and isolated Paraguay until his death in 1840. Francia's successor, Carlos Antonio López, ended Paraguay's isolation and began modernization. The first official U.S. notice of Paraguay occurred in 1845 when President James K. Polk appointed a special agent to Paraguay. Then in 1854, the United States sent a navel ship to conduct scientific research in local rivers, but Paraguayan gunners fired on it. The United States responded by sending 19 ships and 2,500 men to force Paraguayans to pay damages for the incident.

Paraguay suffered during the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) against Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Paraguay lost territory as well as a quarter of its population. After the war, Paraguay's agricultural sector was resuscitated by a new wave of European and Argentine immigrants, but political instability continued.

A succession of presidents governed Paraguay under the banner of the Colorado Party from 1880 until 1904, when the Liberal party seized control, ruling with only a brief interruption until 1940. In the 1930s and 1940s, Paraguayan politics were defined by the Chaco War against Bolivia, a civil war, dictatorships, and periods of extreme political instability. South America's first Nazi Party branch formed in Paraguay in 1931. During World War II, Paraguay officially severed diplomatic relations with Axis countries in 1942, but did not declare war against Germany until February 1945. Paraguay joined the United Nations as a charter member in 1945.

General Alfredo Stroessner took power in May 1954, and during his 34-year reign, political freedoms were severely limited and opponents of the regime were systematically harassed and persecuted in the name of national security and anti-communism. Paraguay became progressively isolated from the world community and it remains one of the least industrialized countries in South America.

On May 9, 1993, Colorado Party presidential candidate Juan Carlos Wasmosy was elected as Paraguay's first civilian president in almost 40 years. International observers deemed this election fair and free. In May 1998, the Colorado Party candidate Raul Cubas was elected president, but he was impeached in 1999, and the president of congress, Luis Gonzalez Macchi, next in the line of succession, became president. In March 1999, Vice President Luis Argana was assassinated, underscoring the continued political instability of Paraguay.


The first Paraguayans probably arrived in America between 1841 and 1850. Early records group Paraguayans as "other" South Americans coming from countries other than Brazil, Argentina, and Peru. During those years, 3,579 "other" immigrants arrived.


In the nineteenth century almost ten times as many South Americans as Central Americans immigrated to the United States. The first wave of immigrants came during a civil war in 1947 and continued arriving into the 1950s. By the 1960s, one-fourth of all Paraguayans were said to be living outside Paraguay, with the majority in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Around 11,000 Paraguayans immigrated to the United States in 1979, but the numbers steadily declined to 4,000 by 1982. While some Paraguayans immigrated for political reasons or to escape civil disturbance, many were young people seeking educational opportunities to develop professional knowledge and skills and to find better jobs. Females outnumbered male immigrants slightly, and more than half of immigrants had no occupation.

Many immigrants from Paraguay were infants adopted by American families. In 1989, 254 adoptions were completed in Paraguay. In 1993, U.S. citizens adopted 405 Paraguayan infants, and in 1995, they adopted 351.


The primary target residences for Paraguayan Americans included New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Paraguayan Americans also settled in Dallas and Atlanta. Many unskilled Paraguayan Americans have taken jobs in the service industry in urban areas such as New York, Chicago, New Jersey, and Minneapolis. Paraguayan American women also accepted jobs in hotel housekeeping, for example, an employment opportunity that other Americans felt was less attractive. Others have found agricultural employment in California and in Kansas. The latter state has partnered with Paraguay in an exchange program through a non-profit volunteer organization called Partners of the Americas. Both Kansas and Paraguay are land-locked, grow cattle and wheat, and are roughly the same size and population. A small number of Paraguayan American are professionals who immigrated in search of better pay and more stable social conditions.

Of the 80 Paraguayan Americans who became U.S. citizens in 1984, only one arrived that year. Most of these immigrants arrived eight to ten years earlier. Naturalization figures increased slightly each year from 1987 to 1996, when 420 Paraguayans became American citizens.

Acculturation and Assimilation

Since about 4,000 South Americans immigrated each year from 1910 to 1930, the U.S. population now includes third and fourth generation Paraguayan Americans. U.S. Census statistics indicate that by 1979, first and second generation South Americans numbered over 350,000, with settlements concentrated in cities of the Northeast including New York and Chicago. Paraguayan Americans gravitated toward urban areas because their education, occupation skills and lifestyles matched urban life. The 1990 U.S. Census stated that approximately 5,415 people of Paraguayan ancestry lived in the United States. Of those people, 1,886 were native to Paraguay.

The Spanish influence on Paraguayan culture has prepared Paraguayan Americans to be at home in American culture. Because 70 percent of Paraguayans speak Spanish, and because of the growth of the Hispanic ethnic group in America, many Paraguayan Americans are able to communicate with less difficulty. Newsstands offer publications in Spanish, banks provide literature and automated tellers in Spanish, even Walmart offers a Spanish translation check-out procedure. Many product labels and instructions include a Spanish version and grocers offer products known and consumed by the Hispanic community.


Because most Paraguayan Americans have a Roman Catholic heritage, their customs and traditions are similar to those of all Latin American groups, including the U.S. Hispanic community.

In general, attitudes toward community and family follow the traditional Hispanic heritage of emphasis on bonds of family loyalty. Paraguayan Americans establish kin-based mutual support by settling in communities where other Paraguayan Americans live.

Families of adopted Paraguayan children often join a local or state community of adoptive families and meet several times yearly to allow their children to meet other Paraguayans. For example, the Ninos del Paraguay Picnic of Needham, Massachusetts, gathered 625 people for its picnic in 1997. Adoptive family networks also exist in northern California, Unionville, Connecticut, Brooklyn, New York, Princeton and Fairlawn New Jersey, and Silver Spring, Maryland.


Paraguayan foods are simple but tasty. The most popular dishes consist of corn, meat, milk and cheese. Manioc, a starchy tuber, is the main source of carbohydrates, and is added to just about everything. The main dishes are: Puchero, Bori-Bori, Chipa, Asado, So'o-yosopy, Locro, Guiso, Mazamorra and the famous and popular Chipa, a bread made from manioc flour. The dishes are described below.

Puchero, a meat stew, is made of boiled hominy and chopped parsley, pepper, squash, carrots or tomatoes. It is flavored with garlic or onion, and thickened with rice or cornmeal dumplings called Bori. Dumplings are often used in soup dishes in South America, and Bori-Bori is a Paraguayan Dumpling Soup.

Meat dishes as well as tropical and subtropical foodstuffs play an important role in the Paraguayan diet. The most typical Paraguayan meat is Asado, a grilled barbecue. Another favorite meat dish is Guiso, made with sausage or organ meat with rice browned in oil and flavored with tomato paste and onion. Main dishes are accompanied by chunks of toasted Chipa.

Grains, particularly maize, and manioc (cassava) are incorporated into almost all meals. A typical meal includes Locro, a maize stew, mazamorra, corn mush, mbaipy so-ó, a hot maize pudding with meat chunks, and sooyo sopy, a thick soup made of ground meat and served with rice or noodles. Desserts include mbaipy he-é, a delicious mix of corn, milk and molasses. For ceremonial occasions, Sopa Paraguaya is prepared using cornmeal cooked in oil with milk, eggs, cheese, onion and other ingredients. A green tea called mate is consumed in vast quantities while mosto (sugar-cane juice) is also enjoyed.

The drink preferred by Paraguayans is a locally produced dark rum called caña, an alcoholic beverage made from sugar cane, and terere, an infusion of yerba mate and cold water. This mixture is sometimes flavored with medicinal herbs. It is served in guampas or mates (gourd) and sipped through a Bombilla, which is a metal straw.


Clothing worn by Paraguayans is similar to that worn by other Latin American nations, though Paraguayan women favor brighter colors. Men and women wear the poncho, and women wear shawls called rebozos. There is no distinctive aboriginal costume. Working-class adults and children go barefoot. This is possible because the mineral-deficient soil is seldom hard or rocky. A colonial attire that is still seen on males in the rural areas is loose baggy pants called bombachas, and a short jacket with a neckerchief in place of a shirt. Broadbrim straw hats are worn by everyone.

Paraguayans produce and wear Aho-poi, fine linen cloth embroidered with threads of the same color, generally white. Aho-poi shirts, blouses, tablecloths and napkins are in great demand around the world.


Fiestas always include dancing. In Paraguay, town halls and homes of the wealthy have outdoor tile or clay dance floors. Many Paraguayan dances resemble the polka as well as the waltz and the tango. Dances such as the bottle dance are much livelier. Several dancers appear on a stage while one dancer dances with a bottle on her head. During the dance, several bottles are stacked on top of each other until as many as fourteen bottles are added. Music is usually provided by a pair of guitars accompanied by the small native harp, the arpa.


Prominent celebrations in addition to Christmas, New Year's Day and Easter include Día de San Blas (Patron Saint of Paraguay) in February, Paz del Chaco (End of the Chaco War) on June 12; and the Fundación de Asunción (Founding of Asunción) on August 15. Official holidays observed in Paraguay also include Labour Day on May 1, National Independence Day on May 15, and the Virgin of Caacupe celebration on December 8.


Paraguayans have no documented health problems other than poor teeth, a problem attributed to the lack of calcium and iodine in the diet.


Guarani, the aboriginal language, is an oral language the Jesuits recorded as a written language. There are 33 signs , either single-letters or digraphs, in the Guarani alphabet: "a," " ," "ch," "e," "ê," "g," "g," "~," "h," "i," "î," "j," "k," "l," "m," "mb," "n," "nd," "ng," "nt," "ñ," "o," "õ," "p," "r," "rr," "s," "t," "u," "û," "v," "y," and "ÿ." Vowel sounds are generated by a continuous, unrestricted flow of air through the mouth and nose. In Guaraní, 12 vowels are distinguished, six oral vowels and six nasal vowels. Oral vowels are generated by air flowing through the mouth, and nasal vowels are produced by air flowing through the nose. In modern Paraguayan orthography, the nasal vowels are represented with the nasal tilde (~) over the oral version of the vowel. The Guarani language has 21 consonants. Consonants are produced by restricting or stopping the flow of air through the nose or mouth by putting both lips together or touching the tongue to the teeth.

While 90 percent of Paraguayans understand the aboriginal language Guaraní, the official language of Paraguay is Spanish, which is spoken by 70 percent of the population. The number of languages listed for Paraguay is 23. Of those, 21 are living languages. Paraguayan Americans can find their way through American culture using Spanish, but first-generation Paraguayan immigrants learn English. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, 5,144 Paraguayan Americans speak a language other than English, while 2,903 Paraguayan Americans do not speak English very well.


Guaraní-speaking native Paraguayans express greetings with the word " Maitei. " For example, "Send my greeting to your mother" is " Maitei nde sipe. " Other forms of courtesy include " Mba eichapa neko'e ?" which means "good morning, how are you?" The language of the Guaranis is oral and onomatopoeic and still preserves the sounds of the forest.

Hand shaking is the common greeting done on both arriving and departing. Men shake hands with other men and also with women. Women friends will embrace briefly and brush cheeks.

Two American gestures that cause offense are the "Good luck" sign made by crossing the middle finger over the index finger, and the "O.K." gesture, with thumb and forefinger forming a circle. Tilting the head backward signifies "I forgot." Winking is usually done only for romantic connotations.

Family and Community Dynamics

Paraguayan Americans continue the ancient Guaraní custom of minga, which is the provision of mutual assistance in household and occupational needs. Family and kin are the primary focus of an individual's loyalties and identity. The family unit includes godchildren, godparents, and many other members of the extended family. Political alliances are reflected in families, while the community is of secondary importance to the family unit. Most Paraguayan Americans live in nuclear families consisting of spouses and children. These family units are smaller than those in Paraguay, where grandparents and other relatives may also live with the nuclear family. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, there were 1,191 Paraguayan American married couples with children, and only 130 single-parent households. The majority of Paraguayan American families rent their homes, but 704 own their homes.


Paraguayan Americans find schools in the United States to be superior to those in Paraguay, where only six years of attendance is required. The number of schools in Paraguay is also low, and about 20 percent of the adult population is illiterate. Many immigrants are students seeking educational opportunities, or young professionals seeking professional knowledge and skill development. The 1990 U.S. Census shows that of 4,132 Paraguayan American adults 25 years old and older, 997 were high school graduates, 700 attended school through 12th grade but have no diploma, 429 have a bachelor's degree, and 653 have had some college experience. Of the 5,415 Paraguayan Americans in the U.S. population, 1,830 are enrolled in school.


Paraguayan women have not traditionally occupied significant positions in society outside of their family and household roles. Traditionally, women have been cast in the role of caretaker. If a marriage dissolves, the mother typically keeps the children. In Paraguay, abortion is illegal in all circumstances, even to save the life of the mother. Paraguayan women begin childbearing on average at the age of 20 years, and they average 4.4 children per household. Compared with other Latin American nations, Paraguay's fertility rate is second only to Bolivia's. According to a survey conducted by the National Demographic and Reproductive Health survey of Paraguay (known by its Spanish acronym, ENDSRO), Paraguayan women, on average, considered 3.6 children ideal. Paraguayan Americans tend to have fewer children than Paraguayans.

Women play an important role in keeping the family together. Women who seek employment outside the home do so in order to give their children a better life. Many Paraguayan American women work in service related jobs such as hotel housekeeping and restaurant staff, though some have joined the entrepreneurial ranks as restaurant owners. Some women have also pursued educational and employment opportunities. Of the Paraguayan American labor force of 4,958 individuals, employed women number 1,537. Most of these women are private wage and salary workers.


Paraguayan Americans follow the baptism practice of the Roman Catholic church, which baptizes infants. Children are highly valued by Paraguayans, and so baptism into the Catholic faith is considered the appropriate cultural step for Paraguayan Americans. Baptism is the first ceremony for a child, and the time when a godparent is chosen. Godparents are then united with parents in the parenting role. The godparents chosen should be of good character and good standing in the community. Godparents are expected to raise the child if the parents are unable. Godparents assume the cost of the baptism and are expected to give gifts on the godchild's birthday and other significant occasions.


In the past, the Latin American and Roman Catholic traditions of courtship included the close supervision of young unmarried women. But such chaperonage does not take place for Paraguayan Americans, who often meet at community Catholic Church activities or through educational pursuits.


A formal church wedding in the traditional Roman Catholic practice or a civil wedding is the norm for most Paraguayan Americans. A church wedding in Paraguay represents a major expense for the families. A fiesta is an essential part of the ceremony, and customarily it is as large and expensive as the two families can possibly afford. For the civil wedding, the families meet for a much less expensive party and barbecue.

In the rural areas of Paraguay, common-law marriages are more prevalent than formal marriages. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, only 32 Paraguayan Americans live as unmarried partners in households.


As a culture, Paraguayans have accepted other ethnic groups with minimal conflict. The majority of Paraguayans are mestizos and the population is the most homogeneous of the countries of South America. Small numbers of Europeans, including German Mennonites and Italians, immigrated to Paraguay in the nineteenth century. In the early twentieth century, Asian and Middle Eastern people also immigrated to Paraguay. Of the 5.2 million Paraguayans today, about 8000 are Japanese or of Japanese descent.

Minorities became a significant presence during the 1970s and 1980s when thousands of Koreans and ethnic Chinese settled in urban Paraguay.


Roman Catholicism was established as the state religion in Paraguay in 1547 with the creation of the Bishopric of Asuncion. Jesuits propagated this faith among the Guaraní people in the centuries that followed, so that the country became 97 percent Roman Catholic and 3 percent Mennonite. Paraguayan law has required that the president must be a Roman Catholic, although the 1967 Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

For Paraguayan American families, the role of religious instruction usually falls to the mother who functions as the family representative before the church. Children are exposed to the teachings of the church and are taken to mass by their mothers. By the age of ten, children are full participants of catechism classes, confessions, and communion. Teenage boys typically drift away from church, while girls are encouraged to continue religious devotion. Paraguayan men do not consider religious devotion to be the role of men. Although the majority of Paraguayan men are baptized, religious ardor is not significant to them, as they follow the Latin American macho ideal of manhood which leaves moral and spiritual concepts to women and children.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Paraguay has a predominantly agricultural economy. The work force in 1995 was 1.7 million, with agriculture representing 45 percent, industry and commerce representing 31 percent, services representing 19 percent and government representing 4 percent of the work force. The principal industries are those related to cattle, such as cold storage plants, tanneries, leather goods, and manufacturing. Other important industries include textiles, cotton oil, tung, soy bean, sourmills, construction materials, cement and lime, tobacco and sugar. Paraguay's labor code allows a 48-hour work week, and forbids work by children under 12. Children from 15 to 18 years of age can be employed only with parental authorization and cannot be employed under unhealthy or dangerous conditions. Minors between 12 and 15 years old may be employed only in agriculture, family enterprises or apprenticeships. But in reality, several thousands of children, many under the age of 12, work in urban streets in informal employment.

The law also provides for a minimum wage of $240 per month, an annual bonus of one month's salary and a minimum of six vacation days a year. However, enforcement of this law is lax. U.S. investors in Paraguay provide better working and pay conditions than their national counterparts, and Paraguayan Americans in the United States are more affluent than their national counterparts. The 1990 U.S. Census shows that the average household income for Paraguayan Americans is $32,981. Additionally, 141 of the 1,773 households reported annual earnings of over $100,000. Only 76 Paraguayan American households received public assistance.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, three-fourths of Paraguayan Americans are employed. Employment is highest in service occupations, sales and clerical positions, followed by professionals and managerial positions, and precision production and repair work. Around ten percent are self-employed.

Paraguayan American attitudes toward work are fundamentally different from the typical American. Paraguayans regard employment as a way of establishing a personal relationship more than as a source of income. The individualistic, capitalist work-ethic is considered anti-social.

In January 1995, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay became members of MERCOSUR, the "Southern Cone Common Market." With the elimination of internal tariffs on 85 percent of all goods produced by the member-countries, and total elimination scheduled for the year 2006, what may now be regarded as Paraguay's domestic market has effectively grown from some five million people to somewhere in excess of 200 million, the majority of them in the more affluent societies of Argentina and Brazil.

Politics and Government

For Paraguayans, political parties are not a matter of personal conviction. Citizens become Liberals or Colorado at birth and allegiance is lifelong. A person claiming political neutrality is suspected of hiding true motivations. American political party affiliation by personal conviction is a very different experience for the Paraguayan American. There is no record of Paraguayan American political activity on a national scale.


In Paraguay, military service is compulsory, and all 17-year-old males are liable for one year of active duty. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, 14 Paraguayan Americans serve in the armed forces, 82 male civilians are veterans and 18 female civilians are veterans.


The United States and Paraguay have an extensive relationship at the government, business, and personal level. The U.S. Government has assisted Paraguayan development since 1937. Although U.S. imports from Paraguay are only about $40 million per year, U.S. exports to Paraguay approach $1 billion per year, according to U.S. Customs data. More than a dozen U.S. multi-national firms have subsidiaries in Paraguay. These include firms in the computer, manufacturing, agra-industrial, banking, and other service industries. Some 75 U.S. businesses have agents or representatives in Paraguay, and over 3,000 U.S. citizens reside there.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided more than $5 million in assistance per year for Fiscal Years 1997 and 1998 and anticipates a similar level in Fiscal Year 1999. The U.S. Department of Defense provides technical assistance and training to help modernize, professionalize, and democratize the military. The Peace Corps has about 170 volunteers working throughout Paraguay on projects ranging from agriculture and natural resources to education, rural health, and urban youth development. The U.S. Information Service (USIS) is also active in Paraguay, providing information on the United States to the press and public, as well as helping arrange educational and citizen exchanges to promote democracy.

Relations between the United States and Paraguay are not always smooth. In the late 1970s, the relationship between the United States and Paraguay faltered as a result of human rights abuses and the absence of political reform. Foreign relations were also adversely affected by the involvement of some members of Stroessner's government in narcotics trafficking. A U.S. State Department report in 1996 identified Paraguay as a regional distribution and assembly center for counterfeit merchandise. The re-export trade to Brazil, catering to consumer demand for such items as electronics, audio tapes and compact discs, designer clothing and footwear had encouraged widespread piracy. In November 1998, U.S. and Paraguayan officials signed a memorandum of understanding on steps to improve protection of intellectual property rights in Paraguay. Also in 1998, a Paraguayan national was executed by the State of Virginia. The Government of the United States conveyed its apologies to the Government and people of Paraguay because the execution violated the Vienna Convention. The Paraguayan national was not told of his right to request consular assistance.

Individual and Group Contributions

Paraguayan Americans have not made significant contributions to American popular culture, or to the arts and sciences. Much of Paraguayan literature is historical or legal writing. Still, Paraguay has always attracted the attention of other cultural giants. For example, Voltaire mentions Paraguay in Candide, and English writers Thomas Carlyle and Richard Burton mention the isolationist policies of the country in the 19th century. America's own political humorist P. J. O'Rourke wrote that, "Paraguay is nowhere and famous for nothing," but then visited the country to cover elections, and fell in love with the country and its people.


Agustín Barrios (1885-1944), one of Latin America's most revered composers for the guitar. He often performed his music in full Guaraní costume, promoting himself as the Paganini of the guitar from the Paraguayan jungles. Berta Rojas, a Paraguayan guitarist and a student of Peabody Conservatory's Manuel Barruenco, performs Barrios' compositions, in the grand traditions of classical and Latinate guitar, for American audiences.


The growing Hispanic media in the United States makes it possible for Spanish-speaking Paraguayans to enjoy television, radio, and printed publications in the Spanish language.


Diario las Americas.

Daily newspaper serving Hispanics.

Address: 2900 Northwest 39th Street, Miami, Florida 33142-5193.

Telephone: (305) 633-3341.


A monthly magazine with features on Hispanics in the fields of education, politics, business, and the arts.

Address: 111 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 410, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Telephone: (202) 682-3000.

La Nacion.

Online Paraguayan newspaper.

Online: .

Organizations and Associations

Asociacion Nacional por Personas Mayores (National Association for Hispanic Elderly).

Association providing employment training, health, housing and economic development for Hispanic families and a national directory of social service programs that provide support to Hispanic elderly.

Address: 3325 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 800, Los Angeles, California 90010.

Telephone: (213) 487-1922.

Friends of Paraguay.

Non-profit organization created in 1987 to establish a network of returned Peace Corps Volunteers and others interested in improving communication and information exchange in support of social, cultural, and economic development in Paraguay.

Address: P.O. Box 27028, Washington, D.C. 20038-7028.

Online: .

Latin American Parents Association (LAPA).

Non-profit organization in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York. A volunteer association of adoptive parents committed to aiding people seeking to adopt children from Latin America, as well as assisting those who have already adopted. Membership is open to anyone interested in Latin American adoptions. Annual dues are $40.

Addresses of independent chapters:

LAPA Connecticut, Inc., P.O. Box 523, Unionville, Connecticut 06085 .

LAPA Maryland, P.O. Box 4403, Silver Spring, Maryland 20914-4403.

LAPA New York, Inc., P.O. Box 339, Brooklyn, New York 11234.

LAPA NJ, P.O. Box 2666, Fairlawn, New Jersey 07411.

LAPA NJ State Chapter., P.O. Box 3125, Princeton, New Jersey 08543.


Organization working for human rights and grass-roots development in the Alto Paran region in Eastern Paraguay. Provides small grants to assist communities, emergency relief for displaced people, and seed grants for community-based sustainable development projects to fight poverty.

Members receive a newsletter and urgent action updates. Memberships are $25 for individual membership or $50 for contributing membership. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Address: 705 East Woodley Street, Northfield, Minnesota 55057.

Telephone: (507) 645-6435.

Paraguayan Embassy.

Paraguay maintains an embassy in the United States. Consulates are in Miami, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles.

Address: 2400 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008.

Telephone: (202) 483-6960.

Paraguay Hecho a Mano, Inc.

Non-profit organization meaning "Paraguay Made by Hand," focusing on the preservation of the native Paraguayan culture through education and sale and exhibition of Paraguayan crafts in the U.S.

Contact: Carol Pope.

Address: 2705 Brook View Court, Brooksfield, Wisconsin 53005.

Telephone: (414) 784-7917; or (414) 790-1195.


Online: .

Partners of the Americas: Kansas and Paraguay. Non-profit, volunteer organization with headquarters in Washington DC. The state of Kansas and Paraguay are partnered. Program has developed exchanges in areas such as agriculture, citizen participation, cultural arts, international trade, emergency preparedness, health, natural resources, university, linkage, and women in development and youth.

Address: 1424 K Street N.W., #700, Washington D.C. 20005.

Telephone: (202) 628-3300, (800)322-7844.

Project for the People of Paraguay.

This organization has delivered four shipments of medical, dental, educational, and personal supplies to non-profit organizations and schools in Paraguay. Offers sponsorships of Paraguayan child living in the Chacarita, Puerto Pabla, areas or Asuncion. $20 a month provides clothes, medical dental, and educational expenses for the sponsored child. Sponsors receive photos and information about the child and family they sponsor.

Address: P.O. Box 251, Avon, Minnesota 56310.

Museums and Research Centers

Denver Art Museum.

Collection of Paraguayan native art that includes textiles, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, furniture and silver.

Address: 100 West 14th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80204.

Telephone: (303) 640-4433.

Indiana University Main Library.

Outstanding collection of sound recordings of various Guarani groups.

Address: Bloomington, Indiana 47405.

Thomas Rivera Library.

Part of the University of California, Riverside. Possesses the best collection of Paraguayan primary materials on the West Coast.

Address: Riverside, California 92517.

Sources for Additional Study

Cooney, Jerry W. Paraguay: A Bibliography of Immigration and Emigration. Longview, WA: J.W. Cooney, 1996.

Hanratty, Dennis M., and Sandra Meditz. Paraguay: A County Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990.

Kelly, Robert, Debra Ewing, and Stanton Doyle. Country Review, Paraguay 1998/1999. Houston, TX: Commercial Data International, Inc., 1998.

Roett, Riordan, and Richard Scott Sacks. Paraguay, The Personalist Legacy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991.

Whigham, Thomas, and Jerry W. Cooney. A Guide to Collections on Paraguay in the United States. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995.

User Contributions:

Thank you for the wonderful article! I visited Paraguay with a foreign exchange program and fell in love. The information you provide is very interesting and informative. Thanks again!
Candia de la Mora
many of them information into these articles are not right!
The name of Paraguay came of 3 words: para - guá- y , and mind: the land of the origen of the grand river.
On the history from Paraguay never tell, that Rodrigues de FRancia have rolls for the independence of Paraguay. They were Yegros, de la MOra ( my great- grandfather ), Capitan Pedro Juan Caballero García and Vicente Iturbe. The all haved the idea of independence, but FRancia haved only the idealogie from Robepierre and the french revolution, the masonery. Free rom Spain and ( no free realy ) after with the others countrys of South America to bilt a confederation.
Francia taked de la MOra, Yegros, Caballero and others heroes on the prission.
Thanks very much for all the wontherfull job all of you have than,thanks to all this informations my kids here in USA have someting to use has a referal in any work or projet for the school,so they can explane the origen and culture of there parents.Thanks again!!!
That was very informative. I am wondering if you know how someone from Paraquay can come to America? Doesn't the government not issue many visas for them to come to the US? And are there grants out there just for people from Paraguay in the US?
i was born in tha us,but am paraguayan and i am proud of it thank you for all the information
Thanks for the information! - I am a Paraguayan y a U.S. Citizen as well, I lived here for 50 years and like the U.S. as well, I visit Paraguay with my American husband many times and we both enjoy the friendly people and great atmosphere in Asuncion. Many of the information in this article is very wrong and untrue, I wish the author gets better informed before writing it. I think she wrote this many years ago and the information is not up to date. What explains is about people living in other areas of Asuncion, and is totally wrong. Thank you.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: