The election of the new governor of the state of Pernambuco, on Sunday, October 29, may be the first step of increased relations between the northeastern Brazilian state and Algeria.
Eduardo Campos, 42 years of age, is the grandson of former governor Miguel Arraes – who was deposed by a military coup in the 1960’s, and spent 14 years in exile in Algiers.
In his first audience with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on Wednesday, November 1st, Campos showed the desire of importing liquefied natural gas from Algeria, to be used in the state’s industrial hub and to supply a thermoelectric power plant in the state.
The state’s governor elect took to the Brazilian president his concern with the unstable relations between Brazil and Bolivia, after the Andean country decided to nationalize the country’s natural gas extraction and clashed head on with Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.
"Pernambuco is about to receive important investment and we cannot be at the mercy of doubtful supply of natural gas," stated Eduardo Campos.
He referred to the oil refinery that should enter operation up to 2009, as well as a shipyard, and a PET and PTA factory. That is not to mention the 480 megawatt thermoelectric power plant that is currently operating at 30% capacity due to lack of natural gas. These new enterprises alone will demand an additional supply of 10 million cubic meters of gas per day.
The way out presented by the government of the state of Pernambuco is the purchase of natural gas from countries that are further away and the construction of a regasification terminal. Campos is convinced that this is the way to reduce the Brazilian dependence on Bolivia.
After the meeting, president Lula invited Eduardo Campos to travel to Venezuela with him on November 12. The Venezuela oil company, PDVSA, is a Brazilian partner in the construction of a refinery in Pernambuco.
Campos, former minister of Science and Technology in president Lula’s cabinet, has affectionate ties with Algeria as the country received his grandfather after a military coup in 1964.
A governor who was identified with popular causes, Miguel Arraes first tried exile in France, which was denied. Having been received in Algiers, he established close involvement with the anti-colonialist fight in African nations.
Apart from Algeria, which became independent in 1962, Arraes also involved himself in the countries that speak Portuguese. "I had close ties with the people of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe and Cape Verde, due to the linguistic identity, and I closely followed their fight against the Portuguese colonial regime," said the Brazilian politician in an interview little before his death, in August 2005.
Arraes took his family to live with him in Algiers, where the last of his 10 children was born. Eduardo Campos, born in Brazil, visited his grandfather in exile in 1969. "I recall my whole family united, for the first time, since the authoritarian regime was installed in Brazil," he recalled, full of emotion.
Miguel Arraes returned to Brazil with the political opening, in 1979, but he maintained his contacts in the country that received him. This is so true that in May 2005, when Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika visited Brazil, he insisted on the presence of Arraes at the dinner he had with president Lula, in Brazilian capital Brasília.
Three months later, Arraes died. Eduardo Campos, Arraes’ widow Madalena Arraes and the entire family travelled to honor the former governor in Algiers, at the invitation of president Bouteflika.
"Brazil and Algeria have much in common. We are people who lived under colonial regimes and still have many social problems to solve. We may help each other, not only in the field of trade, but also in the exchange of technology and technical cooperation," stated the governor elect of the state of Pernambuco.
Anba – www.anba.com.br