Brazilian foreign minister Antonio Patriota is scheduled to meet on Thursday with his Venezuela peer Nicolas Maduro to discuss a bilateral and regional agenda which is expected to emphasize on current issues related to Mercosur, the coming December summit and Paraguay’s situation.
According to a release from the Brazilian Foreign ministry, Patriota and Maduro will address issues relative to trade and cooperation between the two countries and Venezuela’s ‘adaptation process’ to Mercosur.
Venezuela joined Mercosur as full member last July in a controversial move, since Paraguay is suspended and these decisions must be unanimous.
Venezuela was incorporated as Mercosur fifth full member during the six-month presidential summit held in Mendoza, Argentina when Buenos Aires handed the group’s chair to Brazil.
Next month the rotating chair should go to Paraguay, but the country has been suspended from Mercosur following the political events and consequences triggered by the removal of Fernando Lugo from office and his replacement by Federico Franco, which was considered a ‘democratic rupture’ and not accepted by the then other three full members, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Paraguay was then suspended from Mercosur (and Unasur) until next April 2013 presidential elections when all should return to “full democracy”.
However, less than a month ago Brazil and Uruguay indicated that under certain circumstances Paraguay could return to Mercosur before the April election, but Patriota personally later declared that such expectations had “vanished”.
Next December the Mercosur rotating chair should go to Paraguay, but under current circumstances apparently the country will be skipped either by extending Brazil’s six-month another half year or by advancing the calendar and giving Uruguay the responsibility.
“It is not probable that Paraguay returns to Mercosur full membership before the April election since nothing indicates that the block’s presidents will take such a step “in the absence of evidence of the full rule of democracy in the country”.
Patriota’s statements coincided with the worsening of relations between Paraguay and Venezuela, from the moment President Hugo Chavez decided to expulse all Paraguayan diplomats from the embassy in Caracas.
The decision was announced 17 October and the Venezuela government defined it as an “act of reciprocity” with Paraguay, because in July the administration of President Franco had declared Foreign minister Maduro and the Venezuelan ambassador Jose Arrúe persona “non grata”.
Brazil one of the main sponsors of Venezuela’s integration to Mercosur has a long list of cooperation programs in different fields, plus booming trade and participation in infrastructure projects with the regime of President Chavez.