Venezuela's President’s Ruse in Paraguay
Editorial from | ABC Color
Asunción, Paraguay, 21 June 2005 | The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, upon his arrival in Asunción for participation in the Mercosur summit, stressed that supplying Venezuelan petroleum to Paraguay will mean an important saving for our country, thanks to the credit being granted by his government for the purchase of such fuel. This is a simple ruse by Chávez, who seeks to promote his influence in the region. The Venezuelan ruler, like all rulers, knows full well what has been and what will be the end use of the aid funds the Paraguayan government may receive: lavish spending on sinecures, political patronage and corruption. There will be no savings or benefits for the population.
If he really wanted to help Paraguay, Chávez would have granted soft credits for the advancement of education and public health and not for the purchase of petroleum that the state monopoly Petropar will commercialize on a cash basis on the domestic market. Why then does Paraguay want to buy petroleum on credit? It does not need it. It is undeniable that the country needs credits and investments originating abroad, but not for the purchase of petroleum or electricity, which the Government sells to the end users for cash.
The worst thing about this deceit by Chávez is that the credit being granted by the Government of Venezuela to our country will needlessly leave an already much impoverished population with a heavy burden of debts which are hard to pay off and that in the future will mean the imposition of new “tax hits,” economic stagnation, unemployment and poverty. Moreover, it will create a strong and unfortunate subjection by Paraguay to the will of the Venezuelan Government, which at a given moment will certainly demand the defense of outside interests to the detriment of the national interest.
Longtime experience in handling foreign debt teaches us that the Paraguayan Government will sell the Venezuelan petroleum for cash, will utilize the funds in the same way it does with all resources it receives from foreign aid in spending that ranges from the fiscal deficit to paying new public officials and the political campaigns of the party of the officialdom, and year after year there will be an increase in Petropar's debt with Venezuela for the fuel, a debt that will soon represent a major amount impossible to pay off, with the intention of requesting that its debtors negotiate and refinance and go so far as to condone the obligation.
Assuming a financial obligation with an international credit entity, such as the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank, is not the same as doing so with a Government such as Venezuela’s, which is promoting a populist and Marxist agenda, following the steps of the communist dictatorship in Cuba. Does Paraguay want to join the small club of impoverished and oppressed communist countries left in the world? If this were the intention of the government of Nicanor Duarte Frutos, the chief of State, he should display it openly and clearly to the Paraguayan people, who in the 2003 national elections did not vote for a communist program of any kind.
The silent majority among the population, honest and hardworking people who love their country and want to see an end to backwardness, poverty and submission, as well as politicians who still have an inkling of patriotism, ought to be alert and firmly reject this ruse by Hugo Chávez, who only seeks to gain influence over the politics and economy of Paraguay by way of our dependence on the financed petroleum. Unfortunately there is little that can be expected from the Paraguayan legislators, bearing in mind that by ignorance or apathy toward the long and short term ill-fated consequences, they approved the useless and dangerous credit agreement with Venezuela, which is apparent bait for cretins…or concealed bribes for the corrupt.
Translation by W.K.
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