Interview in Spanish and translation by Nahia Antoranz
Photos by Gwangju International Center and courtesy of IPSNet.com
On Wednesday, March 15, we had the pleasure to welcome two gentlemen from the Republic of Paraguay at the Gwangju International Center, Mr. Blas Lanzoni Achinelli, Governor of the Central Department and Mr. Teodosio Romilio Gómez Ibáñez, Mayor of Villeta, an industrial municipality of the Central Department. During a tour of Gwangju by City Hall staff, including Yangnim-dong’s History and Culture Village and the Asia Culture Center, they came in hoping to learn more about how our center works. The visit started off with a short tour of our art installations and other facilities. After the tour, we sat down to chat with them in the GIC Lounge.
Why are you visiting Korea? What is the purpose of this trip?
Lanzoni: Well as you know, we are the governor of the Central Department and the mayor of Villeta, so for us to explain why we are here, we should start with where we come from. Paraguay consists of 17 different departments. The most important is the Central Department, where the capital Asuncion is located, and it is also the most relevant economic and industrial area. The Central Department has 35 percent of the Paraguayan population and 65 percent of all economic production. It is divided into 19 municipalities, and one of them is Villeta, where Teodosio is mayor. We came to Gwangju to sign an agreement with this region of Korea, with the intention of creating programs and projects related to technology, knowledge and cultural exchange, and the strengthening of organizations and institutions.
As we heard, Blas Lanzoni has been coming to Korea every year for some time now, but for you, Teodosio Gomez, is it the first time?
Gómez: For me, it is the first time I have come to Korea, because this time I was invited to come by the Governor of Central, since Villeta is an industrial city and we attract national industries as well as multinational industries. We are very interested in getting to know more about Korea because we know that right now it is at the top in industrial and technological development. We are very much interested in coming to Korea to be able to sign an agreement to cooperate with Korea and to be supported by them.
What have been your first impressions of Korea?
Lanzoni: In my case, I have been in Korea five times prior to this trip, in different regions and for different reasons. My vision and outlook on Korea is very similar to the one on Paraguay. Right now, our country is going through a very important economic situation, it’s the country in Latin America with the strongest economic stability, greatest development, and with the best socio-economic outlook for the next twenty years. So, to take advantage of this “spring of development,” we want to take Korea as a guide and make the most of it.
Gómez: Well in my eyes, the first time has been incredible; to be able to see and feel the importance of technology has been very valuable. It makes me understand that we need to renew our existent Paraguayan technology, something more like what Korea is producing. So, this experience for me is of invaluable importance, and we also invite the Mayor of Gwangju to come to Paraguay and make the correspondent official visit.
What is the relationship between Korea and Paraguay right now? Are there any existing agreements between the two?
Lanzoni: Regarding the Central Department, there are multiple agreements already signed, among them, we signed one with the Ministry of Environment of Korea, and there are also some signed with multiple private companies, of which some of them are already in Paraguay, selling their products and, in some cases, making very significant investments in the region. And on the other hand, Paraguay is buying technology and knowledge in Korea. It’s important to mention that the biggest benefit that Paraguay has today is from receiving support and advice in environmental and water sanitation matters from the Republic of Korea.
What do you think of the Gwangju International Center?
Lanzoni: I am very impressed to find here in Gwangju an international center and to see that the private sector also has such interest in investing in developing more programs and projects to promote cultural exchange.
Is there anything similar to this in Paraguay?
Lanzoni: No, this is something very new to me. In the Central Department, we have a lot of citizen involvement but nothing like a center that connects the international people with locals in Paraguay, but this broadened my perspective, and maybe in the future, we could start a project like this one.
Gómez: Since we have a Departmental School specializing in electricity, industrial electricity, mechatronic electricity, industrial chemistry, and civil construction, what would be the possibility of promoting through scholarships students that could come to Korea to strengthen their knowledge on industrial and mechatronic electricity, since Korea is at the forefront in these fields?
Lanzoni: The first step could be starting some kind of exchange program with the Gwangju International Center, where students could come do their internships in different industries in Korea.