Mon, May 26, 2008 - Page 1 News List

MOFA denies US$71 million promise to Paraguay

PROJECTSA newspaper article claimed the ROC embassy promised aid, which would be given to the incoming government to help resettle landless peasants

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied yesterday media reports quoting Paraguay’s vice president-elect that Taiwan had pledged a massive donation to its incoming government to help landless farmers in the country.

Paraguayan vice-president-elect Federico Franco said on Asuncion-based Radio Cardinal on Friday that the Republic of China (ROC) embassy officials had promised a US$71 million donation upon the new government’s inauguration.

“I’ve met with authorities at the Taiwanese embassy and they confirmed to me that they will donate US$71 million to the country when the [Fernando] Lugo government assumes office on Aug. 15,” Franco was quoted as saying by the Buenos Aires-based news agency Impulso Baires.

The money will be used to settle landless peasants in the country, the report said.

Lugo, a former leftist Catholic bishop, won the presidential vote last month and will be sworn in on Aug. 15 for a five-year term.

During his presidential campaign, Lugo estimated that about 300,000 peasant families were without farmland and promised to resolve the problem, the report said.

The situation has grown into a crisis as thousands of landless farmers began to occupy private lands owned by Brazilian soy growers, the Central News Agency reported.

In Taipei, ministry spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) denied the reports.

“The incoming Lugo government has expressed its wish [for the donation], but we haven’t discussed any details yet,” Yeh told the Taipei Times by telephone.

“Taiwan has always had projects with Paraguay. Those projects with the current government are going quite well,” she said. “The amount of aid to Paraguay is decided by the content and schedule of the projects.”

Yeh said it was still too early to discuss future aid projects with the incoming government, as it wouldn’t come into power until August.

Paraguay, which has maintained diplomatic ties with Taiwan since 1957, is one of only 23 countries that recognize Taiwan and is Taiwan’s only ally in South America.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is scheduled to visit Latin American and Caribbean allies, including Paraguay and the Dominican Republic, in the fall, Chinese-language newspapers have reported.

Additional reporting by DPA

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