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The Brazilian Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, continues to defend Venezuela’s entry in Mercosur and the suspension of Paraguay from the bloc.
Last Wednesday (11), Patriota appeared in the Senate’s Committee for Foreign Relations and responded to criticism from parliamentarians who are contrary to the suspension of Paraguay and against the support given to Venezuela by Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.
The minister reiterated that both decisions were adopted by common agreement between the three countries during the recent summit meeting, held in the Argentine city of Mendoza. “Paraguay will only be able to rejoin the bloc when it restores full democratic order.”
About Venezuela’s admission as a full member, which was strongly opposed by the Paraguayan Congress before the country was suspended, Patriota insisted that the country has a “strategic” economic and political importance to Mercosur.
“With Venezuela’s admission as a full member, Mercosur will extend itself from Patagonia to the Caribbean” said the minister, who highlighted Venezuela’s potential in the energy sector and its potential of “strengthening the networks of trade and investment” in the region.
According to Patriota, both the suspension of Paraguay and Venezuela’s entry were “difficult, but matured decisions, carefully adopted as to not affect the Paraguayan people” and “as a response to an unacceptable situation.”
The admission of Venezuela as a full member of Mercosur will be formalized at a special meeting to be held on June 31st, in Rio de Janeiro.
The government of Paraguay filed a requirement last week in the Permanent Court of Mercosur to restore its rights in the bloc, which were temporarily suspended, and also presented a complaint opposing the inclusion of Venezuela as a full member.
The government’s top legal officials presented the requirement to the Permanent Court, whose headquarter is located in Asuncion, as announced last week by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Félix Fernández Estigarribia.
The complaint included a protest ”against the suspension of Paraguay from the bloc and the declaration by which Venezuela was incorporated as a full member, both decisions contrary to the Treaty of Asuncion, the Protocol of Ouro Preto and the general rules of international law,” according to lawyer, Ernesto Velázquez.
Velazquez, who is part of the government’s legal team, ensured that Paraguay believes that “the aforementioned provisions are null and void” and that “they cannot have legal application and effectiveness.” Moreover, the lawyer points out that the government of Federico Franco, the rightful president since the former head of state, Fernando Lugo was removed by the Senate on June 22, demands the return of Paraguay’s rights within the block.
Velazquez insisted that Mercosur has violated its own resolutions like the “principle of legal equality between states” and “the principle of nonintervention.” He detailed the process, in a document of about 60 pages. All the judges of the Permanent Court, as well as the governments of member states have a deadline of 60 to 90 days to decide on the matter.
The president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, ratified the decision of his country to support the inclusion of Venezuela in Mercosur after the bloc approved the suspension of Paraguay from the group.
According to press reports, Mujica said that “while it is true that the proposal was elaborated in the first place by Brazil, we three agree (the presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay), about Venezuela’s entry in the bloc”. The representative of Uruguay said “the political will involved in the case, far exceeds the possible legal impediments regarding the matter”.
Paraguay was suspended from the bloc after Fernando Lugo was deposed. The suspension led to the approval of Venezuela’s entry in the free-trade agreement. Before the events involving Lugo, Venezuela’s entry in Mercosur faced strong opposition by the Paraguayan Senate, while the lawmakers of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have long supported Venezuelan admission to the group.
Mercosur was formed in 1991 after signing of the so-called Treaty of Asuncion between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Hugo Chavez announced his intention in creating political bases in African soil. Arriving in South Africa for an official visit, Chavez said that he aims at “creating political and legal bases to antecipate bilateral cooperation”. Chavez added to his comment that his goal is to “spread the basis for South-South cooperation in the beginning of the 21st century”. To Chavez, South America is heading towards a “new independence” from neoliberal and imperial forces.
In his evaluation, there is in Africa a renewal movement that seeks paths of sovereignty to its people. He believes that the Bank of the South must not be restrained only to South America, but to Africa and Asia as well.
We can deduce from past behaviour that Chavez is again focusing on his foreign policy instead of domestic policy. His new laws that approved many bills that have been rejected by popular referendum last year, caused some internal problem to him. He will step on the brakes for a while (domestically) preparing the terrain for the municipal elections in November. Until then he will oscillate high foreign profile with low domestic profile.