The next Mercosur summit scheduled for the end of June in Montevideo has been delayed until 12 July, announced Uruguayan Foreign minister Luis Almagro. The new date was agreed by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela earlier this week.
The announcement puts an end to speculation that the summit would be postponed until the end of August so that Paraguay, which remains suspended from the trade and customs block, could attend the meeting.
However according to Uruguayan diplomatic sources several presidents “agenda problems” have impeded from holding the summit in late August.
Paraguay remains suspended from the block and from Unasur, since a year ago when Fernando Lugo was removed from office and replaced by President Federico Franco. Although the removal was done following impeachment of the head of the Executive and according to the country’s constitution, Mercosur members described it as a ‘congressional coup’ and suspended Paraguay until the return of ‘full democracy’.
This theoretically happened when presidential elections were held on 15 April, with Horacio Cartes the winner, but he only takes office on 15 August, thus the proposal for an end of August Mercosur summit.
“The next summit will have the purpose of declaring the automatic return of Paraguay as full member of Mercosur”, said Almagro who added that it was essential that “all Mercosur presidents attend the taking office ceremony of president-elect Cartes on August 15”.
Almagro advanced that Uruguayan president Jose Mujica has confirmed his attendance to the inauguration of Cartes.
At the coming summit Uruguay will be handing the pro-tempore chair of Mercosur to Venezuela, which joined as full member in June 2012 following the suspension of Paraguay. Venezuela first applied to join Mercosur in 2006 but the Paraguayan Congress was repeatedly against such incorporation arguing deceased President Hugo Chavez and his regime were non-democratic or respected the rights of the opposition.
The Paraguayan Senate resisted for years all sorts of pressures (and ‘temptations’), from Argentina and Brazil to overcome its position, so then Mercosur took advantage of the June incidents to make Venezuela a full member. “A political decision that some times needs to prevail over institutional frameworks”, said Uruguayan president Mujica at the time.