Sitting Room

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Border Mathematics

Photo by Nei de Souza

Paraguay's GNP is around 8 billion USD a year. Ciudad del Este alone has boasted to have grossed over 12 billion USD yearly in the early 90s. People say that 2 + 2 is four but not in the Paraguayan case where 8 billion + 12 billion has never equaled 20billion USD so necessary to provide needed resources for Paraguayan's education, health and housing plus other needs.

In this weird mathematics 12+ 8 has keept being 8. Back in the early 90s a Los Angeles Times writer whose name I forgot but I do remember that there was something Spanish to it, wrote that Ciudad del Este was the world's Third Largest Retail Cash Shopping area in the world. It is possible that he did not say Retail Cash Shopping. He might have said something else. The phrase was misunderstood in the area and soon the writer's statement was translated as "Ciudad del Este is the World's Third Largest Comercial Center.

I never swallowed that up and always asked myself, what London, Tokyo, Frankfurt really were.

Anyway the truth about what happened here was that Paraguayan import taxes are much lower than the Brazilian ones and Brazilians flocked to Paraguay to buy cheaper good to sell back home for a profit. These people carried bags ( sacolas, in Portuguese) like the ones showing in the picture. Soon bag-carrying customers began to be called "sacoleiros" (baggers) taking junk (muamba) home. Now the new Border Control Complex wants to put an end to all that.

See Sea of Buses

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