Published December 1, 2021 | Version v1
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Brazil/Paraguay: hydro hegemony, tensions, and cooperation around the binational Itaipu hydroelectric plant. (in Portuguese)

  • 1. University Sao Paulo(USP), Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 2. Independent Researcher, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 3. Federal university of Bahia (UFBA), Salvador, Bahia, Brazil


This paper analyzes the exercise of Brazilian hydrohegemonyin relation to the

binational Itaipu hydroenergy plant on the transboundary Parana river, and

the Paraguayan diplomatic strategies for the renegotiation of the Itaipu Treaty

between 2008 and 2009. The Itaipu Treaty, signed in 1973, is the document

that rules the relations between Brazil and Paraguay related to the share of the

hydroelectric power produced by Itaipu. The rise of left-wing governments in

both Brazil and Paraguayin the first decade of the twentieth-first Century, with

a foreign policy aimed at fostering South American regional integration opened

the room for Paraguay’s diplomacy to renegotiate the terms of this treaty. Despite

the ideological affinities between both governments , the negotiation process

was not free from conflicts. From the analysis of data collected in interviews

and research at the digital collection of the Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color,

it was possible to trace the genesis of the idea of “hydroelectric sovereignty” in

Paraguay leading to the development of an “ideational” expression of power,

and the exercise of material power on the part of Brazil during the negotiations.

The article is divided in four parts. The first part presents the idea of hydroelectric 

sovereignty, identified with a realistic view of International Relations. The second

shows the construction of the claims for greater sovereign participation by

Paraguay through the analysis of publications of the ABC Color newspaper.

The third part presents the first negotiation attempts, still under the Paraguayan

government of Nicanor Duarte Frutos. Finally, it presents the changes negotiated

between Brazil and Paraguay during the governments of President Fernando

Lugo, Paraguay, and Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil.

Keywords: Brazil/Paraguay; hydrohegemony; hydroelectric sovereignty; international

cooperation; transboundary waters; water conflicts;Itaipu hydroenergy plant.


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