Paraguay: Forming young political leaders

The total discredit into which politicians have fallen, thanks to their corruption and ineffectiveness, has given birth in Paraguay to the Youth Parliament. First convened by Francisco Oliva SJ in 1999, the parliament is heading for its third sitting. Each April, more than a thousand young people from all over the country begin a year-long course of formation at the Centre for National Studies and at the National University. Everyone who attends at least 80 per cent of the sessions, writes a thesis and does volunteer work, goes on to collect the signatures of a hundred people to represent and then works for two years as a legislator. After the first six months in regional government, the young parliamentarians proceed to the capital Asunción and take their seats in the National House of Representatives. ?If now while they?re young they don?t influence society, later as adults they will do so,? according to Fr. Oliva. ?We hope that this Youth Parliament will have a Latin American dimension, and already dream of an inter-continental one as well.? [HL10104]