Antonio Jose Ferreira Simoes
Brazil tables proposal on paved Lethem road funding
Posted By Iana Seales On August 28, 2010 @ 5:16 am In Local News |
With financing being a critical component of the project to pave the Lethem-Linden road, Brazil yesterday submitted a proposal to President Bharat Jagdeo for “his consideration” which outlines how some of the funding could be secured.
Brazil’s Undersecretary-General for South and Central America and the Caribbean, Ambassador Antonio Jose Ferreira Simoes said yesterday that the road is a “priority” in Guyana-Brazil relations; he said also that collaboration on a proposed hydropower project ranks as another key area.
Simoes was in Guyana on a one-day visit and shortly after meeting with the President he told Stabroek News that they are examining various ways on how to tackle the road project. One of the proposals made yesterday also included a suggestion that a Brazilian engineering company would commence work on the road; once paved the Lethem-Linden highway is expected to create opportunities on both sides of the border.
“…Paving the road is a priority for the State of Roraima also for the Central Government of Brazil because the connection between the two countries will be strengthened...”, the Ambassador said, noting that the focus is now on the financial aspect of the project. Simoes, a former ambassador to Venezuela, emphasized that Brazil will limit the financial burden on Guyana as the initiative is pursued, adding that they will continue to explore alternative means of funding.
The current state of the Lethem-Linden trail is of some concern to Brazil, the Ambassador said, noting that he viewed pictures of the trail on Thursday during a meeting with members of the business community in Boa Vista. From what he saw in the photographs, Simoes said the road is in a terrible state, and according to him this issue came up during the discussion with the President.
Simoes also spoke of the possibility of Brazil offering some assistance to the current efforts to repair the trail; he noted that Brazil is keen on offering this support before the two countries move into the next phase of paving the road. He added that the same Brazilian team which worked on the construction of the Takutu Bridge could be made available to work on the road.
Simoes underscored the importance of the road being improved and paved saying that in the absence of this many of the plans which Brazil has on the agenda with Guyana can be delayed. This, he said, includes the proposal to set up a container port here to boost trade between Brazil’s northern states and Guyana. However, the port is not a priority area though it remains on the agenda.
“We have to first create the right conditions before we move in another direction”, he stated. He added that the port would be a natural step after certain things would have been addressed, and he reiterated that the current focus is on paving the road and the hydro-electricity project.
Ambassador Simoes said that while Brazil intends to work closely with Guyana on the hydro project it is also interested in having a feasibility study done. It was suggested to Jagdeo that Brazil is prepared to provide a team of experts to examine all the possibilities that exist for hydropower in Guyana, and once completed the study would be submitted to the government here.
He said Brazil would then be willing to engage Guyana on the way forward; the study is important for Brazil because it views it as a critical means of identifying the areas of opportunities. The Ambassador stressed that Brazil is “very interested’ in energy from Guyana. However, his government is not clear on exactly how much megawatts it is interested in because as he puts it, “we need to know what is potentially here”.
Still, he said energy would likely be supplied initially to areas such as Boa Vista and Manaus. Simoes said Brazil is particularly interested in the energy deal because of the demands over there; he noted that when there is a lot of power being utilized in the northern states of Brazil, a limited supply is available in the south.
Simoes also discussed with the President possibility of Brazil expanding Portuguese classes here and according to him, the President liked the idea. Specifically as, Brazil is looking at initially increasing the number of tutors at the Brazilian Centre here. However, he said the Guyanese Head of State had a better idea; teaching Portuguese on local television.
He said Jagdeo suggested that Portuguese could be offered as a television programme reaching many homes across the country. Presently, a similar programme is being offered in Brazil as a project under its Education Ministry. “We will talk to them to see how this way of doing things can be transferred here”, he added, noting that the impact is likely to be greater.
Brazil and Guyana will continue to push development projects in the agricultural sectors, he said, noting that rice is one of the key areas. He noted that the level of collaboration depends also on what indications the government here gives to Brazil, “any specific areas of interest” since according to him, they would be happy to collaborate.
Asked about growing concerns surrounding small arms being smuggled from Brazil into Guyana, the Ambassador said he had no specific information on this.
But he commented that his country is strengthening cooperation with local authorities on security related matters, and is hoping to work with them to avoid “this type of problem”.
He said too that he has no figures as to how many Brazilian miners are here working legally and or illegally, but he noted that there are many legal miners in Guyana. Simoes contended that the miners who are here legally are working to improve the conditions in Guyana, and not to ”harm the conditions here”. Further, he said many are bringing technology for mining exploration and building capacity in the sector here.
Simoes met with the President and several other key officials including the Prime Minister; Director General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Ministers of Agriculture and Transport among others. He said they discussed all the projects that are on the bi-lateral agenda including hydropower; the question of infrastructure; the Lethem-Linden road and Guyana’s impending chairmanship of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Simoes also disclosed that a Brazilian diplomat would be assigned to Guyana to help this country in its chairmanship of UNASUR.
In addition, he noted that Brazil has proposed a meeting between MERCOSUR and Caricom because “we want to strengthen our relations with Caricom”. He said his country hosted the first Brazil/Caricom summit this year and that they hope to build on relations while discussing commercial ties.
Nota del editor del blog: Al referenciarse a la República Cooperativa de Guyana se deben de tener en cuenta los 159.500Km2, de territorios ubicados al oeste del río Esequibo conocidos con el nombre de Guayana Esequiba o Zona en Reclamación sujetos al Acuerdo de Ginebra del 17 de febrero de 1966.
“...por lo tanto, Venezuela reconoce como territorio del nuevo Estado, el que se sitúa al este de la margen derecha del río Esequibo y reitera ante la comunidad internacional, que se reserva expresamente sus derechos de soberanía territorial sobre la zona que se encuentra en la margen izquierda del precitado río; en consecuencia, el territorio de la Guayana Esequiba sobre el cual Venezuela se reserva expresamente sus derechos soberanos, limita al Este con el nuevo Estado de Guyana, a través de la línea del río Esequibo, tomando éste desde su nacimiento hasta su desembocadura en el Océano Atlántico...”