Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited two municipalities in the state of Pernambuco, Friday, December 16. First, in Ipojuca, where the industrial center and port of Suape are located, he joined the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to lay the cornerstone for the petroleum refinery General José Ignácio Abreu e Lima (a Brazilian who participated in the South American wars of independence).
It is estimated that the cost of new refinery will be US$ 2.5 billion, with the funding to be equally divided between Brazil’s state-run Petrobras, and Venezuela’s PDVSA.
The refinery, the first to be built in Brazil in 20 years, is scheduled to begin operations in 2011 with a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day.
Later, Lula inaugurated a professional training school in Garanhuns, the President’s hometown. The school cost US$ 1.3 million (3 million reais) and has a capacity for 240 students. The school is named Euridice Ferreira de Melo Lindú, in honor of the President’s mother.
Speaking to Armed Forces generals at a traditional year-end lunch, the Brazilian President declared that the decision to anticipate paying off an IMF debt of US$ 15.5 billion shows that the country can control its own destiny.
"We are making this payment because we want to show the world and the market that we are in charge. When we do things we might make mistakes or we might get things right, but we decide," said the president.
Brazil is paying off an IMF debt which was to have been paid in installments between now and December 2007.