THE ECOTOPIA 2121 PROJECT EXPLORES THE POTENTIAL SUPER-ECOFRIENDLY FUTURES OF 100 CITIES ACROSS THE WORLD. THIS WEEK, WE HIGHLIGHT THE FUTURE OF THE PARAGUAYAN CITY OF SALTA DEL GUAIRA.
The Guairá Falls of the Paraná River in Paraguay were once one of the natural wonders of South America. Their seven columns discharged the highest volume of water of any falls in the world. Their cacophonous roar could be heard twenty miles away. For many years it was a tourist attraction—a special favorite among the locals—for its power, glory, and the bellowing mists sent into the pristine landscape.
That was until 1982, when the military government blew away the rocks over which the water fell to create a reservoir for the newly constructed Itaipú Dam. So this is what the seven columns of waterfalls looked like after this project was completed.
The local indigenes, the Guarani, and the Paraguayan mestizos as well, prayed and mourned as their sacred falls died. Salto del Guaira, the city, still exists in Paraguay despite the demise of its namesake landmark and despite the loss of the one million tourists who passed through it each year before the dam was built.
In the future, both the town and the falls have reemerged in splendiferous style. Perhaps the Paraguayan military bombs the Itaipú Dam by mistake, or perhaps a series of natural disasters strike it and make it tumble—a great earthquake, for instance, or a series of storms and floods. Or maybe the dam just crumbles from old age or neglect. For whatever reason, someday in the late twenty-first century the Guairá Falls are reborn in a glorious cascade.
By that time, the Guarani have gained control of their land and the Paraguayans have mustered democratic resistance to their army’s constant interference in government. Together, the Paraguayan people and the native Guarani set about rehabilitating the falls with a scenic city.
And once again, millions of tourists are very happy to come and see the falls.