Para la memoria: casi quince años después

Friday, November 12, 2000/ Published in ULTIMA HORA

 A Loss for the Country

By Rafael Filizzola Serra*

 In recent days, the public press published the decision of the Government to dispense with the services of the Consul General for the State of Kansas in the United States, Mario Ramos Reyes.  Full explanations for this decision were not disclosed, but this act denotes the failure of a State policy concerning foreign relations, and, moreover, that we are still very far from valuing and promoting persons who have come to public service through their own merits and demonstrate dedication and efficiency in their work.

Dr. Ramos-Reyes is an intellectual with a professional trajectory recognized not only in our country, but also abroad.  He has served as a university educator in Paraguay, and at the present time is a professor at the University of Kansas.  In addition, he has participated in important events at other North American universities where his specialized studies in Latin American affairs are highly valued.  To count on having such a distinguished representative such as he abroad is a luxury for a country such as ours that has so many deficiencies in foreign affairs, due to the partisan practices followed in nominations for diplomatic posts.

Apart from the personal merits of Dr. Ramos Reyes, this action also puts at risk all of the work that he has done, as well as other currently on-going projects.  Kansas is perhaps the North American state with the closest cooperative ties with Paraguay since 1968, when, within the framework of the Alliance for Progress, Kansas governor Dockins chose our country as a “sister state.”  Since then, cooperative efforts have increased, and Dr. Ramos-Reyes has done an excellent job of strengthening and expanding these ties.

In this regard, the State of Kansas has invested nearly $400,000 annually in scholarship programs for Paraguayan youth, and, through the Paraguay-Kansas connection, has launched extremely interesting cooperative projects with the city of Asuncion.  Equally important, there are programs with the Judicial Power, and, last year various governors from our country met with Governor Graves, who has demonstrated a great deal of interest in the country and its process of decentralization.  Within the scope of academia, there also exists the possibility of cooperation with the School of Public Administration of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, which has one of the major programs in this area in the United States.

Obviously, the recent decision of the Paraguayan Government will affect several of these projects.  Established personal ties are extremely important, and such levels experience and trust do not come automatically with the position.

Our country, more than ever, needs clear ideas concerning the best methods for identifying and taking advantages of the opportunities that it has abroad, and, moreover, regarding a highly professionalized diplomatic service that represents the highest levels of our national interests.  It is a huge disappointment that the Paraguayan government has censured the services of Dr. Ramos Reyes, and, moreover, that it treats with so little seriousness the relationship with a North American state with which we have so many ties of friendship and cooperation.

*Deputy [Diputado], professor of Political Law of the School of Law of Catholic University.