A Questionable Use of Public Funds in Paraguay?

While governmental spending on culture is important, it can lead to some fierce backlash, too, as Paraguay’s Congress (the same body that hastily removed President Fernando Lugo, who fought to address socioeconomic inequalities, from office last year) is finding out after spending US$200,000 on a Steinway piano “to strengthen the culture of the country.” While spending on the arts is important, it’s hard not to wonder if a less expensive piano couldn’t achieve the same ends, especially in a country where basic issues like land distribution, income inequalities, and health care are causing real social problems.


About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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3 Responses to A Questionable Use of Public Funds in Paraguay?

  1. Shawn says:

    How else are you going to enjoy those lovely Paraguayan polkas and nationalist ballads?

  2. Samone says:

    Depending on the age $200,000 for a Steinway is not a bad price they are some of the best concert pianos in the world. He may of had better things to spend the funds on but don’t fault him for buying the best for the best value.

  3. I can appreciate the need to develop culture, and perhaps it was a good value. Still, one can’t help but wonder if a less expensive piano would have mattered so much. The other thing is, especially in light of public outrage over this [less than a year after removing a president the public had democratically elected], this certainly seems to point to how out-of-touch with the needs and demands of a majority of the population Paraguay’s congress continues to be. If they open concerts to the whole population, that would be fine, but if it ended up being a situation in which renowned pianists play in expensive performance halls for upper-class elites, then it would be hard to see how this was really helping to improve the culture of the entire country rather than just allowing some class privileges to perpetuate themselves in the cultural arena.

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