In a July 22nd speech marking the one month anniversary of the parliamentary coup that overthrew left-leaning Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, the former leader said that a motivating interest among the coup-plotters was a sought-after deal between Paraguay and the Montreal-based mining company, Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA).
The RTA deal for a $4 billion dollar aluminum plant on the shores of the Paraná River had been stalled by the Lugo administration due to concerns over the plant’s environmental impact, as well as how much the company would pay for electricity from Paraguay’s Itaipú and Yacyretá hydroelectric power plants. Yet shortly after taking office, Franco fast-tracked the RTA negotiations , pressuring his new Minister of Industry and Commerce to swiftly move forward with the deal. Civil society protests ensued and, as Lugo’s comments about the RTA deal suggest, the issue has become a rallying point for justice amidst post-coup Paraguay’s political and social crisis.
The views of Paraguayan engineer Ricardo Canese reflect the main concerns of citizens opposing the deal. In an article from the Paraguayan social research institute BASE-IS, Canese explained that the proposed deal with RTA would disproportionately benefit the company in that the government – through the taxation of the Paraguayan people – would be subsidizing a massive amount of RTA’s energy over a period of 30 years.
Title: Paraguay’s Bitter Harvest: Multinational Corporations Reap Benefits from Coup GovernmentAuthor: Ben Dangl,
Publication: TowardFreedom.com, July 26. 2012
Researcher: Lyndsey Casey, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University