On the eve of Argentina becoming the next chair of Mercosur, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro revealed he held an hour long video conference with his Uruguayan peer Tabare Vazquez and they both agreed in building a path to channel the current conflict, which has Venezuela suspended from the group, but is rejected point blank by Caracas.
From the Venezuela capital it was also reported that foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez will be attending the Wednesday low key ceremony, at foreign ministers level, in Buenos Aires when Argentina officially becomes Mercosur chair after six conflicting months, and to which Venezuela formally suspended, has not been invited.
”We had a very good and very positive exchange with Tabare (Vazquez)...and have agreed that the conflict which has surfaced, we can resolve it by activating the Olivos Protocol that addresses controversies inside the group, said Maduro on Tuesday on national mandatory television from the presidential palace of Miraflores.
Now we are waiting for the activation of the Olivos protocol and its different stages, as I talked it over with Tabaré, and we can expect very positive results.
Maduro added that Venezuela is Mercosur, in the economic, social, political fields and beyond conflicts and differences that can emerge, we must preserve the path of the South, the union of the South, the economic, cultural, political, integral unity of the South.
Last 2 December the founding members of Mercosur, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay informed Venezuela that it ceased to exercise its inherent rights” (vote and voice) as a member country for having uncompleted the Adherence Protocol, as had been agreed ninety days before.
However the Venezuelan foreign ministry challenges the decision considering it illegal since during the six months it held the pro tempore chair (July/December), it incorporated 1.479 Mercosur rules and rulings, equivalent to 95% of the legislation that the Adherence protocol demands. But Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay insist that Venezuela has left out crucial legislation referred to human rights and trade.
Uruguay in a more contemplative attitude, has argued that Venezuela has been suspended from voting but not from participating and having a voice in discussions. Vázquez argues that despite the non full legislative compliance, Venezuela has the three branches of government functioning including the Legislative under control of the opposition. This view is not shared by the other three full members.
But president Vázquez soft approach to the conflict contrary to the hard-line position of its partners is understandable since the government coalition in Uruguay is divided on the issue: while some members question the commitment of president Maduro to democracy and dialogue, (Vazquez, foreign minister Nin Novoa and finance minister Danilo Astori), the communist party and MPP (from ex president Mujica) are aligned with Venezuela and the theory that it is being hounded by imperialism and right wing regional interests determined to oust progressive governments.
In effect the ruling Broad Front coalition stated that there is ”an aggressive offensive from some members of the (Mercosur) block geared to weaken the regional integration mechanisms constructed during the last fifteen years in Latin America and the Caribbean, with no exclusion of countries because of ideological or political differences”.