Stories written by Natalia Ruiz Diaz

Youngsters training at the SC10 football school. Credit: Natalia Ruiz Díaz/IPS

PARAGUAY: Football – Dream for Kids, Moneyspinner for Adults

From passion for football, to football as a profession: many parents in Paraguay are hoping this sport will provide a career for their sons, who flood into football schools with the burden of their dreams -- and their parents' demands -- to become sports idols.

PARAGUAY: Controversy Over Troop Deployment

Military troops and extra police are being deployed in northern Paraguay after a state of emergency was declared to crack down on an armed rebel group that calls itself the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP).

"The bamboo place" on Roke Hill, in Paraguay.  Credit: Natalia Ruiz Díaz/IPS

PARAGUAY: Bamboo Against Deforestation

Uncontrolled expansion of cattle farming in Paraguay has led to "cutting down trees and planting exotic grasses," says environmentalist Guillermo Gayo. To put a halt to this practice in the southern department of Paraguarí, the foundation he heads has implemented what is known as "permaculture."

Bamboo Against Deforestation

As the farming frontier pushes into forests and threatens natural resources, in southern Paraguay an effort is under way to cultivate tacuara and other cane species in harmony with nature.

Police officers in domestic violence unit.  Credit: Natalia Ruíz Díaz/IPS

PARAGUAY: New Police Units for Domestic Violence Victims

Police officers Juan Cantero and Karin Colmán are sometimes exhausted and depressed by the time they reach the end of their shift. But they quickly recover because they feel their work at a special new police unit for abused women and children in the Paraguayan capital is important.

PARAGUAY: Afro-Descendants Affirm Their Identity

Black communities have for the most part remained out of sight and out of mind in Paraguay, but now they are organising and claiming equal economic and social rights, while building an Afro-Paraguayan identity.

PARAGUAY: Public Health Care Free of Charge

"Did you have to pay for anything?" is the obligatory question these days in the waiting room at the Mother and Child Hospital in Fernando de la Mora, on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital, where people still have doubts that the public health services are free of charge, as the government had announced.

PARAGUAY: Bottled Water Scare Exposes Threat to Groundwater

It all started with a warning on the quality of bottled water in Paraguay. But concern has now spread about the extent of pollution of the country's underground water reserves.

SOUTH AMERICA: New Map Outlines Guarani Territory

Some 100,000 Guaraní people live in the area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay converge, according to a new map drawn of the indigenous group's ancestral territory, which also highlights the threats, such as expanding soy cultivation, to their natural surroundings.

PARAGUAY: Migrants Mainly Young Undocumented Guarani-Speakers

Freddy Garcete, a 50-year-old painter who works in the construction industry, travelled to Spain in search of better wages two years ago, becoming one of the 500,000 Paraguayans forced to seek work abroad because of the conditions at home.

Estela Maris Álvarez, one of Paraguay's emergent indigenous women leaders. Credit: Courtesy of Tierraviva

PARAGUAY: Indigenous Women Leaders Buck Discrimination

More and more indigenous women in Paraguay are overcoming sexist resistance in their communities and emerging as leaders within and outside of their villages, fighting for the rights of their people and against discrimination.

RIGHTS-PARAGUAY: Int'l Backing for Indigenous Land Claims

After 20 years of fighting for their ancestral lands in Paraguay's northwestern Chaco region, the Xákmok Kásek indigenous community's case has reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

PARAGUAY: Health Insurance for All (Registered) Domestics

It took 42 years for social security health care coverage for domestics to extend beyond the limits of the Paraguayan capital.

PARAGUAY: Soft, Slow, Shabby Justice

Five years after the tragic fire that destroyed the Ycuá Bolaños supermarket in the Paraguayan capital, leaving a death toll of 400 people, the courts at last confirmed the prison sentences of the four principal defendants, although compensation for survivors and victims' families has still not been decided.

Girls rescued from sexual exploitation embrace their new life. Credit: Courtesy of Grupo Luna Nueva

RIGHTS-PARAGUAY: NGO Offers Girls a Way Out of Sexual Exploitation

Claudia was 13 years old when she came to the capital of Paraguay from her small rural town. Just a few weeks after her arrival she was wandering the streets of downtown Asunción, a victim of sexual exploitation.

PARAGUAY: Dance Helps Disabled Kids Leap Barriers

Nicolás, a 14-year-old disabled boy, was finally able to open up and begin expressing himself thanks to Open Wings, a project in Paraguay that uses modern dance as a tool to help youngsters with disabilities develop on both the physical and psychological level.

Cerro Poty soup kitchen. Credit: Natalia Ruiz Díaz/IPS

PARAGUAY: Indigenous Squatter Communities Organise Self-Help

Indigenous families living in a squatter settlement on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital are organising themselves, and now have a community soup kitchen and are producing and selling handicrafts. They don't want to return to panhandling on the streets of Asunción, so far from their home villages.

RIGHTS-PARAGUAY: First Remains of Victims of Dictatorship Exhumed

The discovery of the remains of two victims of the 1954-1989 dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay has opened a new chapter in the investigation of human rights crimes committed by the regime.

SOUTH AMERICA: Mercosur Summit Calls for Zelaya’s Return

The presidents of South America's main trade bloc, Mercosur, demanded at their summit in Paraguay Friday the unconditional, peaceful return of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

PARAGUAY: President and Congress Face Off Over Agrochemicals

"Silvino was riding his bike on a dirt road near our home when he was poisoned by toxic agrochemicals, sprayed on a nearby field of soybeans. He died soon afterwards. He was 11," said his mother, Petrona Villasboa, a rural activist in southern Paraguay.

Paraguayan officers of the court in training.  Credit: Natalia Ruiz Díaz/IPS

RIGHTS-PARAGUAY: Justice System Tackles Gender Violence

Paraguay’s justice system is seeking to address a major pending issue: eliminating the hurdles and inequalities in cases of violence against women. When victims turn to the police and the courts, instead of finding a solution, they are often only revictimised.

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