By Jeremy Hobbs - The following column was published in The New York Times Opinion page.
It gives another side of the current situation in Paraguay, and the role the landlocked country plays as a leading exporter of the oilseed.
Even when Uruguayan president Jose Mujica assumed full responsibility for the controversial support suspending Paraguay and embracing Venezuela during the Mercosur summit, other details of events have emerged with Uruguayan ambassador Guillermo Pomi in Argentina, allegedly playing a crucial role.
Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza concluded on Tuesday his fact-finding visit to Paraguay, where he headed a special mission that included OAS Permanent Representatives from Haiti, Canada; United States; Honduras and Mexico.
Brazil’s conservative but influential daily O Estado de Sao Paulo dedicated the main Tuesday editorial to the Mercosur suspension of Paraguay and the entrance of Venezuela arguing that what happened at the group’s summit in Mendoza was “a coup against” the block.
“It’s a major institutional blow, maybe the most serious in the 21 years of Mercosur” said Uruguayan Vice president Danilo Astori in direct reference to the group’s decision to incorporate Venezuela with the approval of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and the absence of Paraguay.
Argentina underlined late Monday that the decision on the incorporation of Venezuela as full member of Mercosur was “unanimously” supported by the presidents from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay during the group’s summit last Friday hosted by President Cristina Fernandez.
The Uruguayan government said that it accepted the incorporation of Venezuela as full member of Mercosur as part of a “negotiation” in which it demanded no economic sanctions on Paraguay and that is why “the last word has not been said” on the issue.
The leading member from Brazil’s main opposition political party described Uruguay’s claim that consensus was absent in the Mercosur decision to suspend Paraguay and to incorporate Venezuela as “extremely serious” and complained Mercosur has become a merely “ideological” grouping.
The new Paraguayan authorities have named a special committee of prosecutors to inquiry into the alleged meeting between Venezuelan Foreign Affairs minister Nicolas Maduro and Paraguayan military during the recent impeachment process.
The formal incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur next July will benefit mainly Brazil and Argentina since they could considerably increase their exports to the oil-rich country at the expense of the local production sector weakened by the economic policies from the administration of President Hugo Chavez, according to analysts.