On April 10th, 2019, the Observatory on Latin America at The New School hosted Luis Ortiz, Susana Sottoli, and Javier Uriarte, who spoke to an audience of students, faculty, and general public. This talk was introduced by Michael Cohen, Professor of International Affairs and Co-Director of the OLA at The New School.
Luis Ortiz, PhD in Sociology from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and OLA Visiting Fellow 2018-2019, talked about the concentration of economic assets in the country, showing how little they have changed with the onset of democracy. He also showed how the schooling system reveals strong spatial segregation patterns in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion. Susana Sottoli, PhD in Political Science from Heildelberg University and UNICEF Deputy Director- Program Division at New York UN Headquarters, first acknowledged that Paraguayan democracy does not fair well in the main global indexes to assess its level of democratic development (Freedom House Index, The Economist Democracy Index, World Bank Governance Indicators). In contrast to these accounts, she offered three alternative lenses that more accurately reflect the public discourse in Paraguay. In lieu of a conclusion, she offered a reflection about the depiction of the country’s politics and society in the recent filmography of young Paraguayan directors. Finally, Javier Uriarte, PhD in Latin American Literature from New York University and Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University, offered an account of the role that war and democratization plays in the processes of state consolidation through the work of Augusto Roa Bastos.
Among the audience, many Paraguayans participated in a lively debate about the process of democratization at stake in their country.