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Brazilian Diplomats Complain They Can't Pay Their Bills Abroad

01/22/2015 - 09h27

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PATRICIA CAMPOS MELLO
ISABEL FLECK
FROM SÃO PAULO

Brazilian diplomats in Tokyo, Lisbon, Guyana, the United States and Benin have sent telegrams to the Ministry of External Relations in the last few days warning that their embassies are at risk of having their electricity cut off due to late payment.

They also complained of not having sufficient resources to buy paper and other materials, or to pay for heating, internet and other services.

The Brazilian embassy in Benin (West Africa) has just US$83 in its account and has had its electricity supply cut and its generator turned off.

In the official residence, the diplomat is currently using candles and torches.

The complaints were made in a telegram sent from Cotonou on Tuesday (20) by the diplomat João Carlos Falzeta Zanini, some of the contents of which were leaked by the civil servants union at the Ministry.

"It's impossible for the Ministry to maintain its current external presence with the successive cuts that the government has been making to its budget," Zanini said to Folha.

The share of the Ministry of External Relations in the executive budget fell by nearly half from 2003 to 2014 - from 0.5% to 0.27%.

"After the embassy's power was cut, I paid November's bill with my own funds," Zanini wrote in the telegram.

On Wednesday (21), Marco Farani, Brazilian consular-general in Tokyo, informed the Ministry: "All the service and maintenance bills from December 2014 have still yet to be paid."

Electricity in the residence of the ambassador in Lisbon, Mario Vilalva, was also due to be cut. However, "the embassy got in touch with the office of the president of EDP [the local electricity company] and managed to delay the payment."

In the Brazilian consulate in Hartford, Connecticut, the consular-general Cézar Amaral complained: "the internet, telephone, cable TV and burglar alarm were all cut nearly forty days ago."

According to the Ministry, "funds for the maintenance of our presence abroad in December were made available today."

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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