Brazil keeps close watch on crisis in Paraguay

Hydroelectric dam Itaipu Binacional is at the epicenter of tensions

Published in 01/08/2019 - 15:17 By Ana Cristina Campos - Brasília

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry reported today (Aug 1) it has been keeping a close watch on the developments of the political crisis in Paraguay sparked by the release of the minutes of the deal between the two countries on the purchase of electric energy produced by hydroelectric dam Itaipu Binacional.

“Brazil has followed with great attention the events in Paraguay involving the process of political litigation against President Mario Abdo Benítez,” the note reads.

The case, which has led to the resignation of Luis Castiglioni and Paraguay’s ambassador to Brazil Hugo Caballero, increased the pressure on Mario Abdo Benítez, who may face an impeachment process.

The controversy surrounding the minutes, approved in May, also resulted in the ouster of National Electricity Administration (Ande) President Alcides Jiménez and Itaipu Director for Paraguay Alberto Alderete. The announcement was made Sunday (29) by the Paraguayan president’s spokesman Hernán Hutteman, who mentioned the authorization given by the president.

A major driver behind the dismissals was the accusation that the minutes of the agreement had not been discussed and approved with transparency. Authorities and Congress members said the treaty would be detrimental to Paraguay and could bring about losses of up to $300 million.

“By reiterating absolute respect to Paraguay’s constitutional process, Brazil is confident that the case will be conducted with no breach in the democratic order, in observance of the commitments assumed by Paraguay in the democratic clause of Mercosur, the Ushuaia Protocol,” the note from the ministry says.

The Brazilian ministry declared it hopes that cooperation with Benítez continues, “which should allow the full implementation of ongoing initiatives as well as new strides, including whatever is pursuant to the fulfillment of the commitment of both countries in complying with the Itaipu Treaty, for the benefit of both parties.”

Yesterday (Jul 31), President Jair Bolsonaro was questioned by journalists about the political crisis in the neighboring country. “You know how it works; the impeachment there can be really quick. Yesterday I talked to Silva e Luna, the president of the Brazilian part of Itaipu. We’re settling this. You can rest assured that Marito will be acknowledged by the good work he’s been doing in Paraguay,” he declared.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Narjara Carvalho / Nira Foster

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