The Constitutional Law guarantees recognition of the plurality of cultures of the country. Acting under the National Culture Secretariat (NSC), the General Direction of Cultural Goods and Services is the competent body for the identification of and documentation and research on intangible cultural heritage. The General Direction of Processes and Cultural Diversity is in charge of cultural promotion and of safeguarding activities. In addition, the National Council of Culture (NCC) is a consultative body involving different cultural and artistic stakeholders and sectors of Government that coordinates decentralized and inter-sectorial actions. The National Endowment for Culture and the Arts (FONDEC) is in charge of the dissemination, promotion and support of artistic performances and festivals etc. The Ministry of Education, the Secretariat of Linguistic Policies, the Secretariat of Tourism, the National Indigenous People Institute and the Direction for the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights are all also involved in aspects of implementing the Convention.
With regard to training in the management of intangible cultural heritage, decentralization is being promoted for cultural management through Departmental units of cultural affairs and participatory mechanisms such as Culture Tables. Training programmes are undertaken in order to accompany these processes, under the overall supervision of the NSC. Teaching in intangible cultural heritage or related subjects (anthropology) is provided at university level (see below).
Documentation on intangible cultural heritage is collected and held by different divisions of the NSC, such as the Direction General of Cultural Goods and Services, the Direction of Anthropological, Archaeological and Paleontological Studies, the Direction of Cultural Heritage, and the Direction of Registry, Cataloguing and Restoration (in charge of registering intangible cultural heritage). Audiovisual materials are made available to the public through social media. A project undertaken jointly by the NCS with UNESCO and the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Latin America (CRESPIAL) resulted in an Inventory of the Guarani Cultural Universe and a Cultural Universe of Afro Descendants in Latin America as well as the Slave Route.
Work on developing an inventory began in 2009 under Regulation No. 621/2016 of the Law for the Protection of Heritage, which established the Inventory of Declarations of Intangible Cultural Heritage and its methodology. By the time of reporting, thirteen elements had been declared inventoried. The General Direction for Anthropological, Archaeological and Paleontological Studies is responsible for developing and maintaining the inventory and safeguarding projects. The elements are categorized by domains (such as myths, legends, gastronomy, music, riddles, case-narration, magic, beliefs, games, transportation, etc.). The inventory is updated periodically but, thus far, no review has been conducted of the status of the inventoried elements. The processes are always initiated with the cooperation of the communities involved and, where relevant, an NGO or an institution specialized in the element is approached before the research process is begun. Furthermore, as a decentralizing action, the NSC has furnished the culture units of the Departmental governments with a data gathering format for elements of intangible cultural heritage in order to ensure citizens’ participation.
In order to facilitate access to information relating to intangible cultural heritage, there is a National System of Cultural Information online as well as a web portal at the NSC; the publication of completed research projects is in the process of being completed. With support from CRESPIAL, conferences were held with six municipalities to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage. The Municipality of Asuncion has included the notion of intangible cultural heritage in its fairs for traditional knowledge.
In terms of other safeguarding measures, the National Culture Plan (NCP) sets out strategic sectorial government guidelines and defines strategic goals in Axis 4 (cultural heritage); a related Planning for Results-oriented Management framework was reported to be in place in 2017. Institutional strengthening to promote the products and services of the NCP, under the title ‘Attaching Value to a Diverse Cultural Heritage’, is linked with the National Development Plan 2030. This is aimed, generally, at decentralization in cultural affairs that will support the revitalization of the cultural heritage elements of communities located outside the main urban centres. The SNC has cooperated with CRESPIAL on projects such as two joint publications (2010 and 2013) and the establishment of Funds for Contests of Projects for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Mbya Guarani. The archives, documentation, information, cartography and conceptual definitions of the Guarani Nation Project were disseminated among the Guarani Indian population. Other bodies are also mentioned as contributing to safeguarding activities, including: FONDEC, which promotes and supports diverse cultural manifestations by allocating funds on a competitive basis in different categories directed towards civil society; the Paraguayan Institute of Crafts, whose goal is to promote the development of national crafts, protect and stimulate the craft-makers, explore channels for marketing and support the training of craft-makers; the National Secretariat for Tourism (under the Presidency of the Republic), which undertakes research activities as well as the documentation and dissemination of information regarding intangible elements; the Cultural Center for the Republic, El Cabildo, whose goal is to contribute to the process of democratizing cultural production in the country with a dynamic space where diverse artistic and intellectual manifestations may converge; and other organized citizens’ initiatives.
In terms of formal education, the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) is examining the possibility of introducing a nutritional programme, taking into account sociocultural characteristics that will include the option of a solid foodstuff, chipa and fruits for the school food programme. At the higher educational level, the National University of Asunción offers courses in tangible and intangible cultural heritage (Faculty of Philosophy); the Catholic University ‘Our Lady of Asuncion’ has a Center of Anthropological Studies; and a PhD course in Cultural Anthropology is available at the National University of the East (UNE). In addition, at a teacher training college folklore is a specific subject for a diploma in Higher Level Dance Teaching, with a course specifically on intangible cultural heritage. Capacity-building activities have included the training of communities, municipal workers and private associations (with support from CRESPIAL), as well as an awareness-raising workshop in Asunción (2010), a virtual course on intangible cultural heritage (2012) and a virtual workshop on participative methodologies for photographic and audiovisual inventorying (2016).
In terms of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, since the entry of Paraguay into the 2003 Convention, it has appointed a focal nucleus for CRESPIAL and served as a member in its Executive Council. NSC’s cooperation with CRESPIAL has led, in particular, to the development of the nomenclature for the identification and documentation of intangible cultural heritage. The NSC also works within the Cultural MERCOSUR on regional-level projects and directly with UNESCO on regional programmes such as the ‘Slavery Route’ project. Other active stakeholders are worth mentioning such as the National Organization of Indigenous People, the National Network of Afro Descendants, Organizations for the defence of the rights of the LGBTI communities, the Network of Cultural Managers of the Department of Paraguarí, the Guarani Language Academy and the Nivacle Language Academy.
Paraguay has no elements inscribed on the Representative List.