Mercosur four founding members meeting in Montevideo have been unable to reach a consensus on whether to transfer, for the next six months, the group's pro tempore presidency to Venezuela and decided on a new round of talks next Thursday. Uruguay insists in complying with the charter and calendar, but Paraguay and Brazil question the current government of Venezuela's credentials for the job, and Argentina has an ambiguous position.
Uruguay ratified on Thursday its willingness to transfer the Mercosur presidency to Venezuela despite objections from the other members, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. In a brief statement in its official site, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Uruguay, currently holding the Mercosur pro tempore chair reiterates its position to proceed to transfer the presidency, in abidance with what is established by the current Mercosur rules.
The deep differences among Mercosur members as to who should hold the group's rotating chair this second half of the year surfaced openly in Montevideo with the surprise visit of Brazilian foreign minister Jose Serra and ex president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The Brazilin delegation formally requested Uruguay, which currently holds the six/month Mercosur chair to suspend the transfer to Venezuela until at least August.
Mercosur is again split over Venezuela because Paraguay, and apparently Brazil, have not been consulted regarding the decision to hand the pro tempore presidency of the block to Venezuela in July, as was agreed in Montevideo by Uruguay and Argentina.
Mercosur presidential summit next July in Montevideo has been cancelled, but the six-month presidency of the group, currently held by Uruguay will be transferred as scheduled to Venezuela, although some conditions of the event are “pending discussion”, said on Monday foreign ministers Susana Malcorra and host Rodolfo Nin Novoa.
Brazilian interim president Michel Temer will be absent from the next Mercosur summit scheduled to take place in Montevideo, and this decision is considered a strong message to the Venezuelan government of president Nicolas Maduro that will be taking the group's chair for the next six months.
Veteran U.S. diplomat Tom Shannon spoke for nearly two hours with Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday to re-start relations between the ideologically opposed governments amid a punishing economic crisis in the oil rich country.
Addressing the OAS Permanent Council, former Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said that reconciliation is an indispensable and essential challenge to overcome the current confrontation situation in Venezuela, and although it will be a long, difficult process, he recommends dialogue efforts should continue.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced high-level talks to ease tensions with Venezuela's populist government on Tuesday, just hours after he backed calls for a referendum that could force President Nicolas Maduro from office. Kerry said the talks would start immediately in Caracas and be led by Thomas Shannon, a veteran of U.S. diplomacy in the region. Attempts last year at dialogue between the ideological foes were stalled by Venezuela's deepening crisis.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's allies asked the Supreme Court on Monday to block a bid to call a referendum on sacking him, accusing the opposition of fraud. The move casts doubt on the recall vote sought by the opposition, which accuses the high court of pro-Maduro bias and has clashed with it repeatedly since winning control of congress in December.