Natural resources, energy and environment
Paraguay's most important natural resources
are the rivers, the forest and the fertile soil. The
country has almost no mineral resources that can be
extracted. At the Paraná border, there are several
hydroelectric power plants that are crucial for
Itaiipu dam, which is co-owned with Brazil, was the
world's largest power plant when it was built. Three
ravines in China are now larger, but Itaipú is still the
largest in terms of how much electricity is actually
generated. The artificial pond, larger than Lake Mälaren,
was completed in 1982 and electricity production began
Major exports by Paraguay with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Of the electricity produced at Itaipú, 90 percent
goes to Brazil. For many years, Brazil only had to pay a
fraction of the international market price for
electricity from Itaipú, according to an agreement from
the 1970s when both countries were governed by military
regimes. Under President Fernando Lugo's regime in
2008–2012, Paraguay managed to negotiate to get three
times as much paid. Paraguay's payments to Brazil for
loans in connection with the construction have also been
a matter of contention.
The Yacyretá hydroelectric plant is located 30
kilometers further down Paraná and is operated in
collaboration with Argentina. The construction of
Yacyretá, which was completed in 1998, is considered to
have caused significant damage to wildlife and has also
- like Itaipú - been criticized for gross corruption
within the jointly owned foundation that runs the work.
Argentina has also prepared a very favorable price for
the electric power from Paraguay.
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Hydropower generates important export revenue and
accounts for over half of Paraguay's total energy
demand. Other renewable sources cover a quarter and
imported oil by just under a fifth.
The mining industry is mainly limited to limestone,
marble and clay quarries.
No oil or natural gas is produced in Paraguay, but
there are hopes of future recovery. In 2013, the
government stated that large natural gas assets were
discovered in Alto Paraná and a British company reported
in 2014 on large oil deposits in Chaco. So far, all
fossil fuels are being imported. During the years that
Paraguay was ruled by President Fernando Lugo, the
country was able to buy oil cheaply from Venezuela. That
opportunity disappeared when Lugo was deposed in 2012.
A serious environmental problem is the extensive
deforestation. Deforestation leads to soil erosion and
water pollution. Expanded areas for soybean cultivation
and grazing land to enable meat production are important
reasons behind the spoilage. Exports of timber and
charcoal are also driving forces. There is extensive
illegal logging and there is no systematic replanting.
In Chaco, which also extends into Argentina and Bolivia,
deforestation is progressing faster than anywhere else
in the world, according to a study done at the
University of Maryland.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
789 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1564 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
5 702 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.9 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
61.7 percent (2015)
Paraguay again in Mercosur
Paraguay rejoins the Mercosur trade organization. This can happen after
President Cartes, after some hesitation, decided to recognize Venezuela's
membership. Venezuela became a member during Paraguay's suspension, which Cartes
considers violates the organization's statutes.
Senator immunity is revoked
The Senate gives in to the public pressure and cancels the immunity of a
corruption-accused senator, Victor Bogado, who belongs to the ruling Colorado
Party. Demonstrations and a social media campaign have been targeted at 23
senators who defended Bogado. The campaign has led to the senators being banned
at a number of bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Paraguay again in Unasur
Paraguay re-joins as a member of Unasur at the Economic and Political
Cooperation Organization Summit in Suriname.
Sharpened measures against guerrillas
President Cartes writes on a decree that the military is entitled to strike
against the Marxist guerrilla EPP in three departments. The decree comes a few
days after a new law was passed that gives the president extended powers to
deploy the military in unrest. The change in the law is directed at EPP.
President Cartes takes office
Horacio Cartes takes over as president and promises to fight poverty. His
government is largely made up of technocrats and businessmen, not party peaks,
as is usually the case.
The Colorado Party wins the election
The Colorado Party regains presidential power when its candidate Horatio
Cartes wins with 46 percent of the vote, against 37 percent for PLRA's Efraín
Alegre, 6 percent for AP's Mario Ferreiro, 3.3 percent for FG's Aníbal Carrillo
Iramain, and 1.1 percent for PPQ's Miguel Carrizosa Galiano (see Political
system). The other six candidates receive less than 1 percent. In the
congressional elections, the Colorado Party is moving forward strongly,
receiving 44 of the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and thus its own
majority there. In the Senate, Coloroado gets 19 seats. The PLRA receives
unchanged seats in the Chamber of Deputies (27) and loses a few seats in the
Senate (to 12). The support for Unace collapses after Oviedo's death.
Harsh accusations in the electoral movement
The tone is high at the final stage of the election movement. Accusations of
corruption and irregularities hail. PLRA's Efraín Alegre reiterates allegations
that have long figured against Coloradio Party candidate Horatio Cartes, about
involvement in smuggling, mafia operations and tax offenses. ABC Color magazine
publishes information that Cartes has hidden money in the Cook Islands tax
haven. The Colorado Party threatens to oust Senate Speaker Jorge Oviedo Matto,
who belongs to Unace. The threat causes Oviedo Matto to take time off from the
post. Officially, this is because he is getting rid of allegations of
corruption, but he probably also wants to avoid hurting Alegre before the
Partial alliance ahead of the election
A few weeks before the election, Efraín Alegre announces that PLRA has
entered into an alliance with Unace, which is believed to strengthen his
chances. In the opinion polls, Cartes otherwise has a lead of a few percentage
Presidential candidate dies in helicopter crash
Former coup general Lino Oviedo (see Modern History), who is presidential
candidate for Unace ahead of the April elections, is killed when a helicopter
crashes. Authorities first say the crash was due to severe weather but then add
an international investigation to determine the cause. Unace's candidate in the
election now becomes a nephew of Oviedo.