Venezuela announces it now holds the chair of Mercosur; strong objections from Paraguay (and Brazil)
Venezuela announced to fellow Mercosur members that for the rest of the year it was the new chair of the group, following on the expiration of Uruguay's six month mandate on Saturday, 30 July. The news was released by Spain's official news agency EFE, which alleges to have had access to the letter sent by the Venezuelan foreign ministry to the other four members.
Brazil and Paraguay's rejection to Venezuela holding the Mercosur rotating chair sounds much like a desperate attitude, but nevertheless it is unpostponable, said Venezuela foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez: ”it is impossible that the compliance of the (Mercosur) treaty can't be respected”.
Uruguay made public on Friday a letter sent to Mercosur fellow full members stating the finalization, this Saturday 30 July, of its six-month presidency of the group, which means the rotating chair should be transferred to Venezuela. The letter was accompanied by a 32 page report of its six-month as chair of the group, particularly intense because of the trade negotiations with the European Union.
The Uruguayan government announced on Thursday it will not fund the return trip or to Turkey or any third country, of former Guantanamo prisoner, Jihad Ahmad Dhiab who went missing for over a month and this week turned up at the Uruguayan consulate in Caracas, Venezuela.
Despite objections from Brazil and Paraguay, Uruguay next Saturday 30 July will transfer to Venezuela the rotating chair of Mercosur for the second half of the year, as indicated in the “group's rules and regulations”.
Two nephews of Venezuela’s powerful first lady Cilia Flores, confessed to trying to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the US, according to prosecutors in the politically-charged case. The court filings by prosecutors shed new light on the case that has sounded alarm bells about high-level corruption and drug trafficking by Venezuela’s political elite at a time of increasing economic and political turmoil in the country.
Paraguay announced officially that it will not be attending the Common Market Council of Mercosur in Montevideo next 30 July, if the agenda includes the transfer of the group's presidency to Venezuela.
Brazil committed a great mistake on supporting Venezuela to the Mercosur trade agreement back in 2012, and the country must be impeded from taking over the pro-tempore presidency of the group until it complies with all the requisites to be a full member, said Brazil's foreign minister Jose Serra.
Mercosur asks Venezuela for 'democratic and human rights gestures' before transferring the group's chair
Mercosur members are requesting from Venezuela concrete gestures in favor of democracy and human rights if they are to consider the transfer of the group's pro tempore chair from Uruguay to Caracas, pointed out Paraguayan foreign minister Eladio Loizaga a day after the group was unable to reach a consensus on the issue that has become particularly controversial when not frustrating.
By New York Times Editorial Board
This summer, Venezuela was poised to assume the rotating presidency of Mercosur, a trade bloc that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. But at the urging of Paraguay, Mercosur heads of state are considering blocking Venezuela, at least temporarily, citing the erosion of democracy there.