The program of events to celebrate the 20 years of the Treaty of Asunción, the founding block of Mercosur (26 March 1991) will have to be rescheduled because Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff won’t be travelling to Paraguay next 26 March.
The idea was that on that very day not only would Mercosur leaders commemorate the anniversary but the Brazilian president would arrive with the so-called Itaipú agreement by which Brazil trebles the annual payment for power generated at the world’s largest operational hydroelectric dam, Itaipú, jointly shared by the two countries, from 120 to 360 million US dollars.
However the Brazilian congress has yet to approve the reversal notes from September 2009 based on the July 2009 Presidential Declaration, when the terms of the agreement were spelled out by President Fernando Lugo and his former Brazilian peer Lula da Silva.
Ms Rousseff would be received, with the agreement promulgated, in Asunción as the “friendly President”, but it will not happen since strong lobbies in the Brazilian congress are against paying higher prices for Itaipú power or allowing Paraguay sell its not spent energy share, currently totally absorbed by Brazil, in the spot market.
The Brazilian ambassador in Paraguay Eduardo dos Santos said there was ‘no such suspension’ because the visit of President Rousseff who took office last January had never been confirmed and was a ‘tentative date’.
However when Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Antonio Patriota visited Paraguay last January 17, the 26 March date was announced thinking in the double celebration.
Paraguay also pending bills: one of them the approval of the Mercosur incorporation charter for Venezuela which Brazilian corporations are most interested in having implemented given a long list of billions of dollars in contracts with the regime of President Hugo Chavez.
The consideration is stalled in the Paraguayan congress and Brazil and Argentina have insisted it must be approved. Both countries have appealed to other pressures than diplomacy, such as blocking trade, aid and Mercosur infrastructure soft loans.
President Lugo lacks the sufficient support in Congress since his catch-all political movement that took him to office has atomized. Two attempts so far have failed but on the return of President Lugo’s visit to Asia, a renewed effort is expected.
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