Paraguay Time Zone UTC-04:00
Capital City Asunción
Currency Paraguayan guaraní
National Day 15 May
Paraguay’s new Ambassador in the UK His Excellency Mr Genaro V. Pappalardo is fulfilling a life-long ambition to live in the UK. As an 11-year-old in 1963, he heard The Beatles’ music for the first time. “I loved the music and wondered where the UK and Liverpool were. I wanted to go there so badly!” He arrived in London this past Spring. His wife Romina Araujo and their three children remain in their capital, Asunción. She will join the Ambassador in London with their youngest child in December once he’s finished school. Clearly happy to be here, he exclaims: “London is a beautiful city!” Since his arrival and between diplomatic appointments, he’s been indulging his passion for music by going to various concerts, and he even went to the Proms. “There are so many cultural options in the UK.”
After training to become a lawyer in the 1970s, Ambassador Pappalardo practiced for nine years – specialising in the areas of civil, commercial, criminal, judicial, labour, patents and trademarks – between 1978 and 1987. “Law is a good vocation for a diplomat,” he remarks.
Diplomatic life began as Second Secretary of the Embassy of Paraguay in Washington DC, followed by a position as Counsellor of Paraguay’s Mission to the UN in New York, a position he held twice, eventually becoming Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires of the Mission. Other foreign postings included a couple of years as Minister of the Embassy in Rome. He opened the Embassy in India in March 2005, becoming its Ambassador in 2009. “There for nine years, I worked hard to put Paraguay on the map in India.” He particularly focused on commercial matters, organising four commercial missions between the two countries. There, work focused on agriculture (particularly soya beans), and oil. Working with other Grulac Ambassadors, he hosted plenty of cultural events, especially showcasing Paraguay’s music. “Of course, sometimes culture can open the doors for business,” he observes.
Throughout his career, Ambassador Pappalardo acted as Chief of Protocol for the President on three separate occasions. “Working for three different Presidents was good experience, because on each occasion, I had the vision from the top. I dealt with ministers, the cabinet and parliament on a daily basis, and had to organise official visits, both incoming and outgoing. And I was close to the President during bilateral meetings.” He believes that all this experience can help him as Ambassador in the UK. “Over the years, I gathered a lot of information that’s essential to make a success of the role I have today.” Looking back at his 30 years in diplomacy, he remarks: “I’m very pleased I chose diplomatic life! Being appointed an Ambassador was one of the most memorable days of my career! A very important moment.”
What are Ambassador Pappalardo’s key plans and priorities as Ambassador in the UK? “I have many priorities! In the political arena, I must strengthen our ties.” He explains that he has good foundations to work from: “We already have 164 years of diplomatic ties.” Diplomatic relations between the UK and Paraguay were established on 4 March 1853, with the signing of a treaty of Friendship, Trade and Navigation. The then President, Carlos Antonio López sent his son to be Paraguay’s first Head of Mission in London in 1854. But today, he says “We must strengthen these relations and try to expand business cooperation in general, also focusing on particular sectors including agriculture, livestock (beef) and defence. We hope to have more British companies investing in Paraguay.”
What does he think is Paraguay’s greatest diplomatic challenge? He’s following the Brexit negotiations carefully. “The major challenge for us at the moment is to establish what we can do with the UK when it is out of the European Union.” He continues: “It’s a very interesting moment to be in London. I’m optimistic! I only see the good things but there will be plenty of change after Brexit.” Ambassador Pappalardo concludes: “We are looking for opportunities for our country. Paraguay is looking for more presence in the UK.”