The national anthem (himno nacional) was written in 1846, in the presidency of Carlos Antonio López, ie: after independence and before the Triple Alliance War. Although it was actually written by a Uruguayan, Francisco Acuña de Figueroa, it expresses something very deep in the Paraguayan soul – pride in their independence, grief and courage in their defeats, and a sense of patriotism as the chief virtue. Paraguay is still a very formal society and the anthem is carefully taught to all schoolchildren and sung with great reverence at most public events.
The first verse about the victory of independence is sung in a very slow and stately fashion, and then the chorus – which includes the catchphrase ‘República o Muerte!’ (‘Republic or Death!’) – changes to a rapid and galloping pace.
A los pueblos de América, infausto
Tres centurias un cetro oprimió,
Mas un día soberbia surgiendo,
¡Basta! dijo … y el cetro rompió;
Nuestros padres, lidiando grandiosos,
Ilustraron su gloria marcial;
Y trozada la augusta diadema,
Enalzaron el gorro triunfal.
Paraguayos, República o Muerte!
Nuestro brío nos dio libertad;
Ni opresores, ni siervos alientan
Donde reina unión, e igualdad.
The peoples of America were sadly oppressed for three centuries by asceptred power,
But one day pride rose up and cried, ‘Enough!’… and the power was broken.
Our predecessors, great leaders, showed their martial glory:
The august diadem was shattered, and they lifted aloft the cap of triumph.
Paraguayans, Republic or Death!
Our spirit brought us freedom.
Neither oppressors, nor servants are encouraged
Where there reigns union and equality.
Paraguay celebrated the bicentenary of its independence in style on 15 May 2011.