Globe, Latin America

Paraguay and Argentina: agreements that bind

The bi-national hydroelectric power station Yacyretá has begun to work at full capacity, 38 years after its construction began, and today stands as a symbol of the willingness both governments are showing to integrate.

Juan Carlos Díaz Guerrero

With a past and recent history of challenges to overcome, presidents Fernando Lugo and Cristina Fernández rose above the countries’ differences and promoted the completion of a construction which is an allegory to the new times in the subcontinent. The governor of Misiones himself, Maurice Closs, summarised the event by highlighting that in 1973 “authoritarianism ruled in Paraguay and threatened to do so in Argentina”, as well as there existing other projects in the country that tried to make the “dam inefficient”. The Argentinean President signified that the Yacyretá hydroelectric power station, administered by Asunción and Buenos Aires, is like a parable which “has happened to the Argentineans and also the Paraguayans and to the region in the last 37 years”.

This construction is like a symbol of the integration of South America and shows that today the “false regional conflicts imposed from outside in order to end our possibilities of integration” have been overcome. When governments are set on promoting a national and popular, democratic political project, including social policies, we can arrive safely, she remarked.

The advantages

The dam is situated on the Paraná River, to the North of the Corrientes province, and after 38 years of its construction being started, it raised its water level to 83 metres above sea. By doing this it can achieve a hundred percent of its generating capacity, ascending to 20 thousand GWs/year, which will guarantee revenue in the order of 800 or 900 million dollars annually, official Paraguayan sources said.

From the first turbine being setup and running, which was installed in 1994, to the last one in 1998, the reservoir was at 76 metres above sea level, which only allowed a generating output of 60%. The agreements between both governments over Yacyretá will allow the pending civil, social and environmental works to be completed, as well as the repayment and construction of the railway flooded by the reservoir and other important factors concerning the Paraguayan population. The government has been working intensely in pursuit of energy integration with the aim of being able to share its sales of surplus energy with other countries in the region, manifested the Paraguayan government. Subsequently, Asunción and Buenos Aires are advancing with the consolidation of a pact so that Paraguayan electric energy supplies can get to Uruguay and Chile.

The Paraguayan authorities recognised throughout the process the will and readiness of Cristina Fernández’s government to supply Paraguayan electricity to the two South American nations. Throughout this current trend of integration, Paraguay will be let off paying around 11 billion dollars and will wipe clean its total debt to Argentina in 2013 for the Yacyretá dam, said the Secretary General of the Presidency, Miguel López.

With the signing of the document, Paraguay and its neighbour’s debt, estimated to be around 17 billion dollars (capital plus interest), will be reduced to around 6 billion American dollars. What is certain is that the interest cuts will clear this South American country of paying 11 billion green notes, for which a specialised commission that studies the most advantageous mechanisms for both States was created.

To round off the demonstration of strong bilateral relations, Lugo signed a decree that grants to the Argentinean President the National Order of Merit that ranks at a level with that of “Collar Mariscal Francisco Solano López”. This acknowledgment is given to people who deserve national gratitude for extraordinary and exceptional services achieved. (PL)

(Translated by Piers Jarvis – Email: piersjarvis@hotmail.com)

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