Sandwiched between Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, a hydroelectric powerhouse, a mysterious country with a tragic past and incredible stories, Paraguay promises to re-emerge as “a giant”.
“We were a great nation and today we are destined to be so again,” promised Santiago Peña, the young economist who assumed the presidency of the country on Tuesday for the next five years. “Let the world witness the resurgence of a giant,” said Peña, 44, at the change of command ceremony in Asunción, with the King Felipe VI among the many foreign heads of state present.
Peña’s promise sounds grandiloquent, but it rests on the country’s history and is part of the convictions of a president economically liberal and politically conservative.
“In 1850 we were the most developed country in South America, the first with heavy industry, weapons, ships. That stopped with the war of the Paraguay (also known as the Triple Alliance, which pitted the country against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay between 1864 and 1870), when we lost 60% of our territory and 90% of the male population,” Peña said in an interview with THE WORLD before assuming power.
“We are a country of 40 million hectares, and we cultivate four or five, but we have another 20 million arable lands. productive potential that we have is huge. Paraguay is larger than Germany, but has 10% of its population. We have a lot of land, we have a lot of water, and we not only generate clean renewable energy with two hydroelectric dams, which we export to Brazil and Argentina: the most important thing is that we have the youngest population in South America, eager to learn and with a work culture. We have a GDP per capita of $5,000, there’s no reason not to think we can double that in the next few years,” she added.