Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has cancelled her attendance to the Union of South American Nations, Unasur summit in Peru on Friday because of “agenda problems” and previous “domestic engagements”, according to the Planalto press secretary office. Vice-president Michel Temer will be attending in her name.
The cancellation motive, according to congressional sources is linked to the fact that on Friday the president must decide whether to veto or sanction a controversial bill on the sharing of oil and gas revenue which modifies the current arrangement to benefit all states but the oil producing areas strongly reject.
The official news agency said the agenda problems refer to the fact that on Wednesday President Rousseff was in Argentina for an industrial and trade forum and on Saturday must be present in Sao Paulo for the drawing lots of the coming Football Confederation Cup, which will be a test for the 2014 World Cup. Besides, the president is involved in the arrangements for the Mercosur summit to be hosted in Brasilia on December 6/7.
President Rousseff also faces another major corruption scandal involving officials from the Lula da Silva administration that still hold posts in her government. Among those facing charges of ‘influence peddling’ are non else but the former personal assistant of Lula da Silva, the deputy chief of the airports reform and the deputy Attorney General.
On Friday Unasur presidents are scheduled to meet to analyze the advance of regional integration and to decide on Paraguay’s current suspension (until April 2013) and the possibility of partially lifting the sanction based on a report from Unasur special envoy who collected information on the current political and electoral situation of the country ahead of next year’s presidential election.
During the meeting in Lima, chaired by Peru, leaders will also discuss the Regional Peace, Security and Cooperation Protocol which is targeted to strengthen reciprocal confidence in bilateral and multilateral relations.
On Thursday Unasur Cabinet chief and Foreign Affairs ministers will receive the report from the High Level Group on the Paraguayan situation, which was compiled by former Peruvian Prime Minister Salomon Lerner during his recent in situ mission which took place four months after Fernando Lugo was removed from office by the Senate and replaced by Federico Franco.
Unasur and Mercosur considered the incident a rupture of the democratic process in spite of the fact that the Paraguayan Senate with an overwhelming majority strictly followed the country’s constitution. Nevertheless Paraguay was suspended from Unasur until the next presidential election, April 2013.
Lerner in Asuncion met with leaders from business, trade unions, NGO, human rights groups, student and political organizations, the Electoral Tribunal and members of Congress. He did however not meet officials from the president Franco administration, which did not extend him an invitation to the country.
Lerner said that Unasur objective is to legitimize a transparent democratic process so that Paraguay comes out as “a country that has kept to the democratic calendar with transparency and can accomplish a clean electoral process with full respect for civil and human rights”.