Lateinamerikanische Kacheln: Ein Erbe der Jesuiten?

Grosser Erfolg fuer die Kachelforschung: Die Ausgrabungen in der Jesuitensiedlung Trinidad im Sueden Paraguays zeigen, dass bereits im 18. Jahrhundert und unter Anleitung der spanischen Moenche kunstvolle Kacheln gebrannt und verlegt worden sind (siehe Foto). Nachdem die Jesuiten im Jahr 1767 endgueltig aus Suedamerika vertrieben wurden, duerfte sich das Wissen um das "Keramik-Gold" von hier aus weiter auf dem Kontinent ausgebreitet und Eingang in die Populaerkultur des Cono Sur gefunden haben. Ausserdem zeigen die Fundstuecke auf beeindruckende Art und Weise, dass sich die lateinamerikanische Kachelkultur bereits in ihren Anfaengen durch ihren Farbenreichtum und ihre kreative Verwendung von ihrer europaeischen Herkunft geloest hat und als eigensteaendige Gattungsform verstanden werden muss.


Changing Paraguay

After half a year, I returned to Paraguay to visit various places of volunteers and met a changing country. As one hoped in March, Fernando Lugo won the elections in april and for the first time since 61 years broke with the rule of the Colorado party, which was responsible not only for dictaturships like the one of Stroessmer (54-89) but also has established a wide system of corruption throughout the whole private and public business and administration.

Now, the former catholic bishop is confrontated with big hopes and expections: Increase the wealth of the paraguayan people (BNP abot 9.000 US$/year), decrease the poverty rate which lays close to 40%, help that all children get acess to education (one third stops to visit schoo, after one year) etc. etc. This all might not work without touching the privileges of Paraguay´s oligarcy. 1% of the population owns 75% of the country, among them many of German and Brasilian decent, earning good money with soja, mais and other agricultural products destinied for export.

It is a question wether Lugo is able to find solutions in and with this harshly segregrated society. The conflicts yet started to become violently. In one of the provinces a leftist group of the landless (sintierras) started to use weapons to occupy land of the big landowners and even more, issued an ultimatum to the "Braziguayos" (how they call the Brazilian owners) to leave the province till the end of the month. If not, they are willing to expell them violently. Of course, the answer of the landlords is not calm either, already a few of the activists died after the use of firearms of the owners. Another thread comes from the neighbouring Brazil (although president Lula da Silva is known to be maybe the most powerful men of the leftist movement in Latinamerica´s governments) . In a step which hardly supports the government of Lugo, the Brazilian army started to do trainings in the region of Iguazu. Not only to support the Brazilian citizens in Paraguay, all commentators see it as a strong message against the renegotiation of the power plant contract of Iguazu. These gigantic water plants are constructed by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguya and although the biggest part of them are located on the Paragauyan side, only the smallest percentage of the income goes to Paraguay.
Despite all the open questions, Lugos presidency is a step forward in a country which has deeply sunk in corruption and undemocratic practises. After his 2 months of presidency, Lugo obviously searched the way for peaceful dialogue, now it is up to the society to share this path.


Homosexuality in a religios world

Due to some physical handicaps I unfortunatly was not able to visit two project's events on the weekend, instead I had to lay on the terrace in the sun, learning some spanish, writing mails, eating strawberries. How sad!

Even more happily, since just in time on this saturday, there was a queer event taking place in the ISEDET - although its really hard to believe for anybody who is living here. So I did not have to move a lot to get in contact with an activist group of queer rights, the Cegla Argentina, which is formed by gay, lesbian and other queer cristians. Quite a big topic in a world which is much more formed by religion and religios conservatism then most of European places. While it's obvious what's the catholic point of view, here, also the evangelical churches think in their majority of homosexuality being a sin or at least the conduction of it. Many of them might be even stricter then the often laissez-faire day-to-day life in catholic congregrations. Especially the big movements from the US, the Pentecostal churches, but also other "historical" protestant churches formulate a hard standpoint. Among some popular answers on homosexuality, one can get healed from the demon directly in some services in Buenos Aires or participate in a group of Exodus International ("freedom is possible").

In this cultural context, the church I am working for, the IERP, can surely be seen to be one of the most liberal evangelical churches in Latinamerica. Nevertheless, so far it also followed the strategy of the three apes and never stated a clear opinion on the issue of homosexuality. Now time has to change. The case of an openly gay vicar, has forced the IERP to work in an official comission on the issue. While it might just serve to delay any answer, or even worse, state against homosexuality, my hope is, that they find a way to open the doors to the queer folk . It would be the first official statement of evangelical churches in the cono sur of the issue.

But back to the movie night: Astonishing many people were visiting the movie, and while looking around I couldn't help but wonder, that there were obviously some people in my religios sourrounding being more attached to the issue then I ever expected. To me it demonstrated that church, maybe due to Jesus' central message of love, has always attracted also the queers. Even more impressive was a second situation that night. I talked to one of my housemates about the movie. After watching the sad and at the same time optimistic stories of 4 cristian families in the US struggling with a homosexual child, she told me that yes, its a good movie, but she is still not quite convinced that homosexuality really could not be a sin. With all my commitment to the issue, I first thought that she makes an ironical joke. Well, but after talking a bit more, it turned out to be her serios thinking. Confrontated with varios forms of homophobia in my life, from violent aggression in Cologne to right wing confrontations in Krakow, that was the first time that I met somebody being so formed by its cultural background, that their was simply no doubt in stating something like that. Wow. It might be a good example for the conservative parts of my sourrounding here. Afterwards I told her about my own orientation and I am sure their will be some more dialogue in these days about the topic. As well, as in the commission of the IERP. And I will keep you informed!


Schland ist ueberall

Da die Welt in dieser Nacht mit 700 Milliarden fuer die Banken gerettet wurde, koennen wir uns beruhigt wieder den kulturellen Themen widmen. Sollte sich jemand Gedanken machen, in welcher Wildnis ich mich herum treibe: 2 Videos sollen der Aufklaerung dienen. Der freundliche Herr, der in Carmen Nebels Weihnachtsgala 2 Saetze ueber Gewalt sagen darf (nein, nicht der Stimmgabelpreistraeger Semino Rossi) ist mein Chef Jorge Gerhard. Wenn er sich nicht grade auf Werbetour in Deutschland befindet, sitzt er hinter mir im Buero und macht Voelkerverstaendigung am Telefon. Auch wenn er nicht immer mit Pastorenkragen herum laeuft, sollte klar werden: Diesem Mann kann man trauen! Aufschlussreich auch das zweite Video, das echte lateinamerikanische Froehlichkeit beim Gemeindefest am letzten Sonntag in Belgrano einfaengt. Leider war die Kamera noch nicht griffbereit, als die Volkstanzgruppe mit schwarz-rot-goldenen Baendchen im Haar geschuhplattlert hat. Achso, Belgrano liegt uebrigens 12.000 Kilometer vom Westerwald entfernt! Hatte ich schon erwaehnt, dass ich fuer eine Kirche der deutschen Einwanderer arbeite? Und dass die USA jaehrlich 16 Milliarden fuer die Entwicklungshilfe ausgeben?