Following a full day of deliberations in Brasilia between Foreign Affairs ministers, the presidents from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, on Tuesday will formally receive Venezuela as the new full member of Mercosur, as was agreed at the regular mid year summit in Mendoza.
The historic event, as it is described by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, nevertheless has been plagued with controversy since the incorporation was decided on the absence of the fourth original Mercosur full member, Paraguay, suspended from the group until April next year, and contrary to basic consensus rules.
In Brazil the procedure used to implement the incorporation decision has been consistently criticized by opposition leaders, lawmakers and law professors. Likewise in Uruguay where even Vice-president Danilo Astori has openly clashed with President Jose Mujica saying the procedure is illegal and could represent the “kiss of death” for the Mercosur group which took off in 1991 in Paraguay.
Mujica has argued that sometimes the political must prevail over the juridical, and “this was one case”, adding that Venezuela as an energy powerhouse would further strengthen the group, balance inside forces and open other opportunities to expand in the region..
But Mujica will be focusing on other issues in Brasilia: the River Plate canal dredging differences with Argentina for which he is hoping on a bilateral meeting with Cristina Fernandez (despite her refusal to address foreign ministry affairs) and which has exposed a serious confrontation between the neighbouring countries.
The Uruguayan president will also hold talks with the host President Dilma Rousseff hopefully to sign several bilateral agreements referred to infrastructure, energy, ship yards, science and technology, plus attracting investments in new alternative energies such as wind.
The Brazilian Foreign ministry said in a release that with the incorporation of Venezuela, (the main oil producer of South America with 2.3million bpd) Mercosur will represent 83% of South America’s GDP.
Earlier in the day the foreign ministers addressed legal and practical trade issues so that Venezuela adapts to Mercosur nomenclature and the common external tariff plus the list of exceptions (safeguards) she’s entitled to. It was agreed Venezuela would have until 2016 to get all these issues straightened out.
Although the formal presidential summit of incorporation for Venezuela takes place on Tuesday with the attendance of Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez, Uruguay’s Jose Mujica, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the host Dilma Rousseff, the full annexation will effectively occur on August 12.
On that day a month will have passed since Venezuela deposited its ratification of the Mercosur protocol, as demanded by the group’s rules.