Marcelo Duarte believes a quick lesson on Kansas government will go a long way in advancing Paraguay's fledgling democracy.
"The tension, confrontation process between the branches does not bring down the system but strengthens it. This is good news," said Duarte, a deputy representing the New Political Movement in Paraguay.
Duarte was among four legislators from Paraguay at Kansas University on Monday to meet with Reps. Forrest Swall and Barbara Ballard, both Kansas House members from Lawrence.
The South American officials are on a three-week mission to study government operations in the United States. They have been to Washington, D.C., Albany, N.Y., and Denver. They were in Topeka today.
"For me, the American experience is going to be very useful," said Sen. Antonia Nunez de Lopez of the Colorado Party. "It gives us pointers to modernize our system."
Paraguay held presidential elections in May that resulted in the first democratic handover of power in the country's 182-year history.
For 34 years, Paraguay was subjected to the iron-fisted ruled of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner. His hold on Paraguayan politics was ended in 1989 with a coup, which led to elections this year.
Juan Ernesto Villamayor, a deputy with the Colorado Party, said Paraguayans have sought the type of decentralized government that exists in the United States.
"We need to develop an independent legislative branch that can really speak for a constituency," Lopez said.
Duarte said it was important for Paraguay's legislative bodies, the Senate and House of Deputies, to hire full-time support staff.
In Kansas, Swall said, legislators work with 30 researchers and 25 lawyers employed by the state when shaping legislation.