Sing, Mr. Ambassador, sing!
July 2, 2008 6:29 AM   Subscribe

Now that's what I call diplomacy! The US ambassador to Paraguay has become a music sensation in the country after recording an album of folk songs in the indigenous Guarani language.

This same James Cason was a conservative darling for, among other things, hanging Christmas lights in Havana a few years back... this article lauds him for "getting under the skin" of the Castro regime. Here's his Wikipedia page.
posted by flapjax at midnite (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Until stumbling across these articles, I'd never heard of Guarani language, people or music. Went looking around for Guarani music just now, though, and came up with:

Musica Guarany.

Guarani traditional music.

And at this page you can hear samples of Guarani songs from a Nonesuch album from a Guarani group called LOS CHIRIGUANOS.

Also this article on The Use of Music in Guarani Shamanistic Rituals. I don't reckon Ambassador Cason ever attended one of those, though...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:28 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Evidently, the US has chosen to harden their approach to the gobiernos progresistas of the region. This seems unnecessarily cruel, though, Paraguay poses no threat that warrants action like this.
posted by micayetoca at 7:40 AM on July 2, 2008

Any American ambassadors who sing in Farsi? That would be a pretty good find.
posted by three blind mice at 8:03 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I sense a show-off linguistic badass of the type the CIA likes to hire.

From the first link: ''I've never been to a country where I couldn't speak the language,'' Cason told The Miami Herald. ``These words are very hard to retain. It's pure consonants. You've got to just bang them into your head... I'd never sang in my life in front of anybody, in any language,'' Cason recalled. 'But when I sang the first line of the first song, they all started screaming and cheering. I said, `OK, I can do this.' ''

... He spent $2,500, logged 32 hours of recording sessions and even wrote a song, Campo Jurado, the album's opening track.

''Paraguayans cry when they hear it,'' Cason said.

posted by koeselitz at 8:04 AM on July 2, 2008

''Paraguayans cry when they hear it,'' Cason said.

Somebody should tell him that isn't necessarily a good sign...
posted by Skeptic at 8:08 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

I sense a show-off linguistic badass of the type the CIA likes to hire.

Given that his last posting was as chief propagandist in Havana, that's not a shocker.

Still pretty impressive, and definitely outside the usual box.
posted by rokusan at 8:30 AM on July 2, 2008

Now that's what I call ass-kissing! (But I'm a cynic. I can't help it).
posted by neblina_matinal at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2008

Guaraní is in fact a hard language. When I visited Paraguay I bought a grammar and tried to learn it, but gave up. (Not that it was a high priority, and it probably wasn't that hard from my present point of view, but I guess I thought it would be like learning Spanish, and it wasn't.)
posted by languagehat at 10:29 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's also one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful language in the world.
I don't know what the guy means about Guaraní having too many consonants. It appears to be mostly (C)V to me.
posted by sour cream at 3:01 PM on July 2, 2008

Wow, I just found the yellowed sheet I was writing words on when I was trying to learn it: "bread: mbujape; bed: inimbe, (t)upa; bird: guyra... there are lots of mosquitoes: heta ñati'ū..." Fun!
posted by languagehat at 3:23 PM on July 2, 2008

any ambassador is a representative of his/her home country and part of their job description is to inspire good will among the local population. this is perhaps the smartest pr move I have seen from an american diplomat in a long time and seems well worth the cost and effort.
posted by krautland at 9:55 PM on July 2, 2008

Isn't Paraguay the place where Bush bought a bunch of land? The place folks speculate he plans to escape, if he must, to escape prosecution?
posted by Goofyy at 5:56 AM on July 3, 2008

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