An academic seminar “20 years of Mercosur” will be the main celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the South American trade block, unable to convene political figures from the four full member countries to commemorate the 26 March 1991 founding charter or Asuncion Treaty.
Celebrations had to be cancelled at last moment because Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff who was scheduled to visit the capital of Paraguay on Saturday was unable to deliver an equally important Itaipu agreement promised to the Paraguayan administration of President Fernando Lugo since 2009 under former president Lula da Silva.
The Itaipu agreement includes Brazil’s promise to treble payment (from 120 to 360 million US dollars) for Paraguay’s surplus power from the world’s largest operational hydroelectric complex, shared by the neighbouring countries.
The agreement also allows Paraguay to gradually access the Brazilian energy spot market with its surplus power currently totally absorbed by Brazil at prices dating to the seventies when the construction of the dam was started.
The Friday forum is sponsored by the Paraguayan government and the German Social Democrat Foundation Friedrich Ebert Steiftung.
Foreign Minister Jorge Lara Castro and the German foundation representative will open the forum which includes academics from the four countries, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
However diplomatic sources in Asuncion said that Brazilian president Rousseff will ask congress to take a vote on the Itaipu agreement in April on time for her re-scheduled visit to Asuncion sometime in early May.
Bussiness lobbies in the Brazilian congress have prevented a vote so far, fearing the agreement’s impact on power costs.
However President Rousseff theoretically has sufficient support to push the bill through congress.
Former president Lula da Silva who this week visited Asuncion on a conference tour said he was sure “Dilma could deliver what he had been unable to accomplish”.
This Friday also Marco Aurelio Garcia, foreign affairs top advisor to President Rousseff is scheduled to visit Asuncion to meet President Lugo and other top officials.