Acknowledging realities other than our own: telephone service in Paraguay
Bandera de la República del Paraguay
every once in a while, it's important to take a break from navel-gazing and take a look at the rest of the world...
When Emilio Contrera, a small farmer in Paraguay who is nearly 80 years old, wants to phone his daughter in the capital, he must first overcome a number of hurdles.. Submit To Propeller
He says it is getting more and more difficult for him to walk the two kilometers from his house to the telecentre run by Paraguay's public telephone company, the Compañía Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (COPACO) in the town of Yegros, 280 km east of Asunción.
"There is almost never anyone attending the phone booth, and you have to wait for the employee to show up," says Contrera. But he adds that he is "lucky" because one of the officials is his friend, and helps Contrera make the phone call whenever he sees the elderly farmer coming down the road.
In addition, the office is only open from 8:00 to 19:00. Outside of the office hours, more than 90 percent of the local residents remain incommunicado from the rest of the world, since they have neither fixed telephone lines nor access to mobile phones.
"There is no cell phone signal around here," said the farmer.
As Contrera's case illustrates, telephones are still a luxury item in this South American country.
The elderly farmer is one of the 5.64 million Paraguayans - 94 percent of the population - who have no fixed telephone line in their homes, and one of the 4.2 million - 70 percent of the population - who have no cell phone