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Paraguay-Brazil Itaipú energy dispute is “like Panama Canal negotiation”

Saturday, March 28th 2009 - 08:31 UTC
Full article 2 comments

Paraguay rejected this week Brazil’s proposals regarding the non renegotiation of the Itaipú treaty which regulates energy production from South America’s largest hydroelectric dam shared by the neighbouring countries.

“We don’t accept (Brazil’s proposals) because they are not up to our expectations”, said Paraguayan Foreign Affairs minister Alejandro Hamed Franco who anticipated a long negotiation process “comparable to that over the Panama Canal”.

Brazilian ambassador Eduardo dos Santos was officially informed of Paraguay’s decision earlier this week, added the Paraguayan official.

Brazil is contrary to a renegotiation of the Itaipu treaty dating back to April 1973, “when both countries were ruled by military dictatorships”, and in exchange for Paraguay dropping the claim has promised infrastructure investment and credits.

However Paraguay insists in a “fair price” for the electricity generated by Itaipú and the free disposal of non consumed energy, which under current circumstances can only be sold to Brazil at “derisive prices”.

Paraguay argues it only receives 100 million US dollars annually from Itaipú (plus royalties and other compensations) for electricity sold at a rate of 2.7 US dollars per Megawatt/hour when the international prices is in the range of 60 US dollars.

According to Paraguayan sources Itamaraty (Brazil’s Foreign Office) sent a high ranking official to Asunción, Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes, to try and persuade the administration of President Fernando Lugo not to insist with its claims of a “fair price” and free disposal of the Paraguayan share on non consumed energy.

Brazil absorbs 95% of the electricity generated at Itaipú since Paraguay only takes 5%, making the country one of the few in the world with an energy surplus.

Paraguayan sources said the Brazilian official failed to convince and the package he brought included promises of a high tension transmission line from Itaipú to the capital Asunción; construction of a second bridge over the mighty Parana River plus the maintenance of the Friendship Bridge linking Ciudad del Este and Foz de Iguaçu. Apparently Brazil also offered to plan and build an international bridge over the Paraguay river linking Puerto Murtinho and Carmelo Peralta.

However Minister Hamed Franco said Paraguay will continue to negotiate and compared the issue to the Panama Canal dispute between Panama and the United States, “which lasted thirteen years and we have been only been in negotiations for six months”.

Categories: Politics, Brazil, Paraguay.

Top Comments

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  • Andrew Nickson

    It is good that Paraguay continues to demand renegotiation of the infamous 1973 Itaipú Treaty under which it is forced to sell all of its surplus energy at a pittance to Brazil under 2023! It is probably the greatest injustice in economic relations between any two Latin American countries. For so long it has been covered up and President Lugo's government should be applauded for finally “putting it on the table”.

    Mar 28th, 2009 - 07:12 pm 0
  • Name

    Paraguay has been to nice for far too long, on most of the mercosur treaties and ITAIPU treaty. Being a small and isolated country demands stronger policies. Bullying from Argentina and Brazil as such, must diminish.

    Mar 29th, 2009 - 06:39 pm 0
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