Paraguay Makes Its Case for a Fair Deal with Brazil on Itaipu

Itaipu display Paraguay, which is a landlocked country, will make public in Uruguay and Spain, its claims to neighboring Brazil regarding the energy from South America's largest hydroelectric dam, Itaipu, which it shares with Latinamerica's leading economy.

The presentation before the Mercosur Parliament seated in Montevideo, and the following week in Spain will be done by the Paraguayan representative in the Itaipu dam governing board, Carlos Matero Balmelli.

Paraguay has a six points claim mainly its interest to freely disposing of its share of surplus energy, which currently is entirely absorbed by Brazil.

"I think that somehow the Itaipu case is becoming international, so that Brazil can understand it must be more compromising towards Paraguay's claims," said Balmelli who added that if Brazil "is going to have a regional leadership because of its size, economic power, that nobody questions, it must be more receptive."

Balmelli said "dialogue is valid when it's conductive to the solution of the controversies which generate them; it's not a matter of only sitting down to talk."

Anyhow he said Paraguay was satisfied with the current negotiations in the framework of the bilateral committee named last September by Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo and his counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Paraguay is also demanding a review of the Itaipu construction agreement dating back to 1973, which stipulates that each country has the right to 50% of the energy and the surplus electricity must be sold to the other partner at cost price.

Paraguay only needs 5% of Itaipu's electricity so the rest ends in Brazil.

Balmelli said that Brazil does not accept modifications to the original agreement, "this is quite clear, Brazil has said so in several occasions." But if Brazil does not admit reviews, "at least we can demand coherence in its application."

"Paraguay is asking to be able to dispose of the surplus energy by selling it to the Brazilian market, and at a fair free-market price," underlined the Paraguayan delegate.

He also mentioned that Brazil has an open energy market with "the other Mercosur members, Argentina and Uruguay simply based on a decree, so why not with Paraguay? Why not with the surplus energy from Itaipu?"

Balmelli said that following the presentation before the Mercosur parliament he will give a conference on the subject in the Casa de America in Madrid, a day after Brazil makes a presentation on its energy system.

"I'll be talking about "Itaipu, integration or hegemony" in Spain said Balmelli who anticipated he will be contacting Spanish energy corporations.

"We need to invest heavily in new sources and particularly in transmission lines, which is our great shortfall," insisted Balmelli.

The Paraguayan delegate will be making the presentations next to his Brazilian counterpart in the Itaipu board, Jorge Samek.

Mercopress

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