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Paraguay: Prejudice in International Media During the World Cup

Friendly and playful rivalry between competing nations during international sport events is common; but sometimes the competition goes too far, turning into personal and degrading attacks on a particular nation or culture. In Paraguay, the 2010 FIFA World Cup evidenced that Paraguayans had to look out for prejudice coming from the least expected source: international mainstream media from Brazil and Spain.

The first hit came from one of Paraguay’s most cherished neighbors: Brazil. At the beginning of the match between Brazil and the Netherlands, most Paraguayans cheered for Brazil. By the end of the match, however, many Paraguayans were happy to see Brazil get eliminated. This sudden shift came after a video was broadcasted by the biggest Brazilian TV network Rede Globo, ridiculing Paraguay’s team and Paraguay itself. The video spread rapidly through social networks.

Under the headline “Brazilian envy?, [es]” Paraguayan newspaper ABC published on its digital edition: “As if Brazil had anything to do with Paraguay’s participation in the World Cup (it could only face Dunga’s team in the final) a TV network undermines the Paraguayan team’s performance and points out that the only reason Paraguay receives attention is Larissa Riquelme (a very publicized model during the World Cup).”

"Brazilian TV report offending PARAGUAY!!" video uploaded to Youtube by DaniBoy78

Journalist and blogger Osvaldo Cazenave posted on his blog Caquis, Malevos y otras yerbas [es] about the significant amount of attention that Paraguay received during the World Cup, and also pointed out the negative aspects of being in the spotlight:

También hubo tristes comentarios y parodias desubicadas de parte de la prensa extranjera. (…)
(…) el grotesco reportaje del canal deportivo brasileño SportTV de la Red Globo, en el que no solo menoscabó el desempeño albirrojo, sino también lo matizó con negros ingredientes pintó un negro panorama sobre la realidad del país, como su situación geográfica mediterránea, el “polo de desarrollo” que representa Ciudad del Este, el guaraní “valorizado” que en el mercado internacional( …)

There were also sad comments and vulgar parodies form the international press [towards Paraguay] (…)
A grotesque piece from Brazilian channel SportTV from Red Globo, in which not only the performance of Paraguay’s team was undermined but that also showed the country’s reality through a sarcastic lens, like its landlocked location, the “development area” that Ciudad del Este represents, the “value” of guarani currency in the international market(…)

Soon, thousands of messages on Twitter and Facebook displayed how shocked and offended Paraguayans felt. Journalist Enrique Vargas Pena [es] posted on Facebook:

En la pagina digital de ABC un video de Rede Globo donde los ¨irmaos¨ (de merda!!) expresan lo mucho que nos quieren y despues hay que escucharle a esos boludos periodistas deportivos llorando como si ellos sique fueran brasileros!!

In ABC’s digital edition there is a Red Globo video where our Brazilian “brothers” (shitty) express how much they care for us, and then we have to bear those stupid sports journalists crying as if they were Brazilians! [referring to Brazil’s elimination]

Jorge Roberto Pereira also commented –in Spanish and Portuguese– on ABC’s digital edition:

LASTIMÁBLEEEEEEEEE …. ¿Cómo puede ser que un tipo despreparado como este, asi como su producción, pueda pertenencer al ¨staf¨de una red globo?? (…)Seguramente, nunca ha venido a Asuncion a conocer su red hotelera, su gastronomia.. Tampoco debe saber que, también en Brasil, esta la la miseria, la favela, al igual que cualquier otro país de América Latina …. “

“SHAMEFULLLLL…How is it possible that such an unqualified person and his production can belong to the red globo staff?( …) It’s obvious he has never come to Asuncion, to know its hotels, its gastronomy. He probably doesn’t know either, that also in Brazil there is misery, the “favela “, just like in any other country of Latin America.

But that wasn’t the only event that drew attention from Paraguayan Internet users. As if the video from SporTV wasn’t enough prejudice against Paraguayans, another discriminating video hit social networks that same day.

A few days before Paraguay faced Spain on the field, a Spanish TV network broadcasted an even harsher video [es]: A satire of a Paraguayan young girl begging the Spaniards to let Paraguay’s team win, so that the victory would bring some joy to poor children from Paraguayan. The girl also said her great-grandmother was raped by Spaniard conquistador Hernán Cortes. The video was received with outrage. Diego Legal Cañisa [es] on Facebook wrote:

¡Qué vergüenza dan publicaciones como estas, este mundial ha servido para desnudar lo poco civilizados e ignorante que son algunos “periodistas” españoles! Sólo demuestran el miedo y la inseguridad que tienen! No se va nio a acabar el mundo si son eliminados en 4tos.!!!

Publications like these are so embarrassing, this World Cup has served to uncover how uncivilized and ignorant some Spanish journalists are! (…) The world will not end if they are eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Roberto Espinola Robert [es] also wrote on Facebook:

ESTO ES DENIGRANTE..!!!!!!….PARA LOS AUTORES Y PENSAR QUE LE LLAMAN DE PRIMER MUNDOOO!!!!!!!…..PREFIERO SER TERCERMUNDISTA CON SENSIBILIDAD HUMANA!!!…

This is so degrading, for the authors and to think that they are called from the first world…I rather be from the third world with human sensibility.

Mariana_ladaga tweeted:

Qué triste que en países supuestamente “civilizados” como Brasil y España, se utilicen medios de comunicación para fomentar la xenofobia

How sad is it that in supposedly civilized countries like Brazil and Spain, mass media are used to promote xenophobia.

Both events prompted Paraguayan authorities to take action. On one hand, the Ministry of Tourism wrote a letter to the Brazilian show [es] condemning the video and inviting them to visit Paraguay to knockdown preconceptions.

The Ministry of Minors also voiced their concern and repudiation [es] against the Spanish video for portraying a girl and talking about sexual violence in that context, alleging it could induce violence among Paraguayans and Spaniards.

Despite the bitter moment, many Paraguayans pointed out that the discriminating videos did not represent the entire country's view, but only individuals. Gisse Peralta [es] posted on Facebook:

Pero no hay que generalizar a los españoles (asi como tampoco hay que generalizar con los argentinos, ni con los brasilleros, etc) estuve viendo las repercusiones alla y la mayoria esta re enojada por esto, les parece re de mal gusto y piden a los que hicieron esto que pidan perdon por ESTO que hicieron!”

But we don’t have to generalize the Spaniards (just like we shouldn’t generalize with Argentineans, Brazilians, etc.,) I’ve seen the repercursions over there and most of them are mad over this, they consider it bad taste and they request that the ones who did this apologize for what they did!

The experience also prompted a stronger sense of patriotism among Paraguayans. Nilda Torales [es] wrote on Facebook:

No necesitamos ofender a nadie para sentirnos grandes!!!! FUERZA ALBIRROJA. TE AMAMOS Y ESTAMOS ORGULLOSOS DE USTEDES!!!

We don’t need to offed anybody to feel great!!! GO ALBIRROJA, WE LOVE YOU AND WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!

Ever Zalazar [es], also on Facebook, said:

Gente, el video es desgradable, pero (…) no culpemos a toda Espana. Nosotros somos orgullosos de nuestro Pais, y de nuestra raza! Si algunos espanoles quieren satirizar la pobreza, nosotros mostremos lo bueno q tenemos y hablemos lo bueno q tiene Espana, las paellas por ejemplo! Mostremos q los Paraguayos somos UN PUEBLO valiente y heroico”

People this video is unpleaseant (…) but let’s not blame Spain for it. We are proud of our country and our race! If a few Spaniards want to mock poverty, we should show the good things we have and talk about the good things that Spain has, like paellas! Let’s show that Paraguay is a brave and heroic people!

Eventually the ambassador of Spain in Paraguay issued an apology [es] and said he was embarrassed by the video. SporTV also apologized publicly [es] on the show.

See Brazil: Prejudice against Paraguay in the Media to read about the Brazilian reaction to the video from SporTV
  • Ricardo dos Santos

    While reviewing the GUIDELINES to post my comment (below the text box), i can see rule number 2: Please treat others with respect, which is fundamental for free speech to be a valuable tool for democracy. What do you think?

  • maria bogado

    Algunos representantes de Brazil como pais vecino y sudamericano deberían dejar de lado las irracionales confrontaciones de fulbol, adornadas de connotaciones xenofóbicas. Deberían pensar antes de eso en lo mucho que necesitan a Paraguay, ya que si no le concediéramos generosamente parte de nuestro valioso caudal energético (por chauchas y palitos) ni siquiera tendrían energía adecuada.
    En cuanto a España ni siquiera merece un comentario. ¿Que se puede esperar de la gente de un pais donde la xenofobia se hace evidente en un video que recorre el mundo mostrando a un hombre pateando bestialmente a una mujer desconocida por el solo hecho de ser latina? Llamarlos animales sería ofender a esas criaturas de Dios.

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