Lugo's visit underscores charity
By Kim Se-jeong
Simple acts of charity often highlight broader issues — even in diplomatic relations.
When Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo visited Korea last week to encourage trade and other bilateral relations, he visited a charity bazaar raising funds for victims of a recent flood in Paraguay that swept through the South American country in April.
Organized by the Paraguayan Embassy here, the event sold traditional and cultural items at the Banyan Tree Club and Spa Seoul, Tuesday to raise funds for approximately 40,000 farmers still displaced by last month’s flooding. The Multi-cultural Museum also ran a display of traditional Paraguayan items.
On Tuesday, Lugo signed an agreement to exchange knowledge and technology to create future development along the Paraguay River and prevent devastating future floods.
“The main thing is to mitigate the natural danger of flooding because there will always be a possibility of flooding, but mitigating the damage it causes will greatly help farmers, their livelihoods and cattle ranchers,” said Paraguayan Ambassador to Korea Ceferino Valdez.
Paraguay has reviewed the knowledge and technical expertise Korea amassed for its Four Rivers Project, recently completed in March.
“The Four Rivers Project is key here,” Valdez said. “(The Koreans) have the experience and the know-how that we can use to develop the Paraguay River and really help the farmers there.”
In 2009, Korean launched the “Four Rivers Restoration Project” to lessen the effects of climate change, and both minimize the frequency and severity of flooding in the country’s four major rivers — the Han, the Nakdong, the Geum and Yeongsan rivers - that total 1,700 kilometers in length.
Products on display and for sale at the charity bazaar included traditional items: embroidered needle work called “encaja yu,” “aho poi,” a fine cloth, traditional hand fans called “pantallas,” and “guampa,” traditional drinking vessels made from cow horns, from which Paraguayans drink their national beverage yerba mate tea.
These items and many more were on sale at prices ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 won to raise money for displaced farmers.
Lugo visited Korea as part of a five-nation tour of Asia that aims to boost trade, investment and development with Taiwan, India, Thailand, Korea and Japan.
Paraguay is a significant exporter of beef and other agricultural products. Paraguayan-Korean trade is about $200 million annually.
Lugo's visit to Korea marked the South American country¡¯s participation in the Yeosu Expo and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Paraguay.
Relations were established in 1962. It is his second visit to Korea since he became president following his first in June 2008.