Venezuela failed in removing members from the Mercosur Parliament Human Rights Committee for allegedly having interfered in Venezuelan internal affairs. The initiative which turned into a deplorable incident occurred this week during the XII session of the regional parliament in Montevideo.
Uruguayan Deputy Adriana Peña and her colleague from Paraguay, Mirta Palacio, president and vice president of the Human Rights Committee recently visited Caracas, "as Mercosur legislators" to collect information from government offices and private sources on the proscription of 272 political leaders from the coming provincial and city November elections in Venezuela. "We went to listen to all sides involved" those who have been proscribed and the government but "officials couldn't receive us and that is why we did not finalize a report on the situation", said Peña who is a member of the main opposition party in Uruguay. The issue was formally presented at the Parliament session by the Venezuelan delegation headed by Deputy Saul Ortega who demanded the removal of Peña as president of the Committee, but the initiative did not have the sufficient support. The Human Rights Committee also received the Venezuelan mayor of the Caracas county of Chicao, Leopoldo Lopez, in representation of the 272 proscriptions. Lopez, a young popular and ascending political figure, who the Venezuelan opposition claim he could challenge President Hugo Chavez, has been banned from presenting his re-election next November allegedly following corruption charges. "At least we had the chance to explain our case. In spite of the apparent complexity, the case is quite simple since both the (Venezuelan) constitution and the Inter American Human Rights Commission are crystal clear: unless there's a final firm judicial ruling there's no way they can impede a citizen from becoming a candidate in an election, and that is what has happened in our countryâ€¦" Lopez said the charges date ten years back when emergency payments to teachers, fire fighters and to fund street illumination and contingent solutions for the poorest schools to the east of Venezuela. The president of the Human Rights Committee Deputy Peña insisted the visit to Venezuela "was done as a member of Parliament, in representation of no group", but she was unable to reach a conclusion since it was not possible to meet with Venezuelan authorities. Nevertheless Deputy Ortega and the Venezuelan delegation insist on their accusations and the legitimacy of their request to have Ms Peña and Ms Palacio removed from the committee. The Venezuelan government and supporters allege the two Mercosur parliament deputies' trip and expenses in Caracas were financed by the opposition. The Human Rights Committee is made up of ten members, two for each member country (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela). However the two Venezuelan delegates have no vote since the country is still in the process of incorporation. The Brazilian and Paraguayan parliaments still have to vote their approval. Following the Tuesday session when the Committee legislators met the press there was shouting, accusations, exchange of offensive language and a few scuffles, all on live television. Not very encouraging for Mercosur unity