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Brazil, Paraguay annul controversial power payment deal

August 1, 2019
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Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez speaks to the nation, accompanied by his wife Silvana Lopez Moreira, from the Palacio de Lopez in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. Paraguay and Brazil have scrapped a widely criticized agreement on sharing power from a hydroelectric dam that led to the resignation of Paraguay's foreign minister and calls for the impeachment of the president. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez speaks to the nation, accompanied by his wife Silvana Lopez Moreira, from the Palacio de Lopez in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. Paraguay and Brazil have scrapped a widely criticized agreement on sharing power from a hydroelectric dam that led to the resignation of Paraguay's foreign minister and calls for the impeachment of the president. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Paraguay and Brazil have scrapped a widely criticized agreement on sharing power from a hydroelectric dam that led to the resignation of Paraguay’s foreign minister and calls for the impeachment of its president, Paraguayan officials said Thursday.

New Foreign Minister Antonio Rivas told reporters that the May agreement has been annulled and will be renegotiated.

Paraguayan critics have complained for years that Brazil has been paying too little for power from their jointly operated Itapu dam and that a new three-year agreement failed to remedy the problem. They also complain it was signed in secret.

The controversy led then-Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni to resign this week. Opposition leaders in Paraguay’s Congress submitted a measure calling for the impeachment of President Mario Abdo Benitez.

The president on Thursday alluded to the deal in a speech to governing party loyalists, saying, “I ask forgiveness if I have erred.”

The two countries split the output from the huge dam, but Paraguay uses only a small share of its half. The rest of that share is sold to Brazil, but Paraguayans have long complained that they receive less than they should.

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