The Paraguayan Senate this Friday rejected a draft declaration proposed by the left to urge the Government of Mario Abdo Benítez to a political rapprochement with China in exchange for health aid in the fight against COVID-19, which in the South American country has left eight dead and 202 positive.
The project, proposed by the Guasu Front agreement with the support of sectors of the Liberal Party, the largest of the opposition, and the minority Patria Querida, was rejected with the support of 25 votes against 16 who did support it.
The political rapprochement with China is impeded by its alliance with Taiwan, an island that Beijing considers a rebellious province and which has maintained a relationship with Paraguay since the Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship (1954-1989).
The draft project, which will now go to the archive, urged the Executive Power to establish “immediately diplomatic relations” with China with the proposal of an agreement “of mutual cooperation and exchange of goods and services” to face the coronavirus epidemic in exchange for agricultural raw materials and surplus food from Paraguay. ”
Carlos Filizzola, leader of the agreement and proponent of the project, defended the minority opinion in favor of an approach “without mixing ideological questions” in the face of the fragility of local healthcare in the face of the expansion of the coronavirus.
He said that in any case, Paraguay’s commercial exchange continues to be very active with China through triangulation, which complicates the entry of Paraguayan products such as soybeans, of which the South American country is one of the main producers and exporters in the world.
The proposal met with opposition from the ruling Colorado Party, which stuck to Paraguay’s friendship with Taiwan, which maintains support for the South American country in education and development projects.
In this sense, the official senator Lilian Samaniego, head of the Foreign Commission that ruled against the initiative, highlighted “the amounts in millions of dollars” of Taiwan’s annual aid to her country.
“Several exalted countries in Taiwan have fallen into the trap of Chinese promises in exchange for severing relations with the island and have later been misled, as the promises by the Chinese government have never been followed through,” Samaniego said.
For his part, senator and former foreign minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni, also from the Colorado Party, stated that Paraguay “has never closed itself to dialogue” China.
But he said that this country is interested in Paraguay as a “political tool to increasingly close the circle around Taiwan.”
In relation to foreign aid against COVID-19, the Guasu Front, the largest left-wing formation in Paraguay, has also been proposing a closer relationship with Cuba so that the island contributes its strategy in this matter to the South American country.