ASUNCIÓN — Paraguay’s president, Frederico Franco, said on Wednesday (8) that the country no longer wishes to “give” energy away. President Franco spoke specifically to Brazil and Argentina, Paraguay’s partners in the Itaipu and Yacyreta hydroelectric plants, respectively.
Lights Out Brazil? Paraguay set to Retaliate
Last month, Brazil and Argentina, along with Uruguay, suspended Paraguay from the Mercosul trade bloc, allowing Venezuela to enter–an action that the Paraguayan Senate had blocked. Brazil and Argentina alleged that the impeachment and removal from office of Franco’s predecessor, Fernando Lugo, had been a “breakdown of democratic order” justifying the suspension. Most international observers say the action was legal.
“We’re not willing to continue to give up our energy. And pay close attention to the use of the word give. Because what we are doing is giving to Brazil and Argentina, we are not even selling,” said the president, according to a speech published on a Paraguayan government website.
Paraguay has low power consumption and sells most of its excess production from the two plants to its partners. By some accounts, Paraguay supplies 20% of Brazil’s electrical energy needs. Franco, however, says Paraguay wants to encourage the use of energy within its own borders.
“We seek to bring what is ours from Itaipu and Yacyreta, to create jobs to avoid further migration. For this, the only alternative is to create secure conditions to industrialize the country,” he said.
In perhaps related news, Brazil announced on Wednesday deployment of 9,000 military troops to its borders with Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina as part of Operation Agata, to combat smuggling and crime in the region.
Since its suspension from Mercosul, Paraguay has opened negotiations with the United States of America to build a permanent military base inside the national territory.
According to testimony before a Brazilian congressional committee, on the day that the Paraguayan Senate voted to remove the former president from office, in what most international observers say was legal within the bounds of the Paraguayan constitution, the Venezuelan foreign minister, Nicolos Maduro, tried unsuccessfully to incite a military rebellion against the Paraguayan Congress.