Paraguay must continue suspended from Mercosur following the group’s presidential summit on Friday, anticipated the head of the Latin American desk from the Brazilian Foreign ministry, Antonio Jose Ferreira Simoes.
“Conditions have not been altered”, said Simoes regarding the current situation of Paraguay which has been suspended from the block since June 22 when following the impeachment by the Senate Fernando Lugo was removed from office and replaced by Vice president Federico Franco.
The suspension of Paraguay is one of the several points of the agenda the presidents are expected to address on Friday in Brasilia following on Thursday’s meeting of the block’s Foreign Affairs and Economy ministers and Central bank governors.
Simoes recalled that the other regional grouping Unasur in its last summit last week in Lima, Peru decided to continue with the suspension of Paraguay. Mercosur is currently made up of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and suspended Paraguay.
Originally when the suspension was announced both by Mercosur and Unasur it was understood to last until the coming presidential election scheduled for 21 April 2013. The argument for the sanction was that the removal of Lugo was a “rupture of the democratic process” contrary to the charters of both regional groups.
However at the Unasur summit Brazilian and Argentine diplomats revealed not only that the suspension stands but extends until August 2013 when, whoever is elected in April in transparent, fair elections for all candidates effectively takes office.
Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriota said implicitly that the April election was ‘a step’ to the recovery of the full rule of democracy.
The announcement was particularly annoying for the Paraguayans since they were expecting some kind of lenient message given that the Unasur High Level special envoy and former Peruvian Prime Minister Salomon Lerner, after spending several days in the country had finalized a ‘positive’ report on the political and electoral situation.
The report which included praise for Paraguay’s Electoral Justice Tribunal was to be presented to Unasur leaders at the summit in Lima.
But a couple of days before, the Brazilian Executive advisor on international affairs Marcos Aurelio Garcia anticipated that the suspension would stand because that had been the decision at the June summit. “Suspensions must be complied in time and form” insisted the Brazilian official.
Another issue to be addressed by the Mercosur summit will be the invitation extended to Bolivia and Ecuador to join the group.
Bolivia, currently an associate member, said president Evo Morales will express the country’s willingness but also anticipated they want to remain a member of the Community of Andean Nations, CAN.
Argentina most certainly will bring up the issue of support for her struggle with the hedge funds (‘vulture funds’) and dealings in the New York court, and in Hamburg at the Law of the Sea tribunal challenging Ghana over the retained Navy vessel ARA Libertad.
The Cristina Fernandez administration can also be expected to lobby for support in yet the latest litigation: dispute with Repsol over the majority nationalization of the country’s oil and gas corporation YPF.
A clause backing Argentina’s sovereignty claims over the Falkland Islands and its natural resources can also be expected.
However the issue has now increased in significance since direct bullying and threats by ‘radical’ groups and friendly unions have forced several cruise vessels to desist by writing, from calling at the “Malvinas Islands”, as part of the Cristina Fernandez government policy to strangle the Falkland Islands economy and isolate them from the South American continent.
At the final ceremony Brazil will hand over to Uruguay the Mercosur chair for the next six months. The ceremony should have been played by Brazil and Paraguay, but since the latter is suspended the alphabetical order was skipped.