President Hugo Chávez warned on Wednesday that if Venezuela's entry into Mercosur is not approved ending this year he would have to change his goals, though he was careful to add he was not giving any ultimatum.
"There is no reason why Venezuela's membership into Mercosur should not be approved," underscored Chávez in Montevideo, Uruguay. In the second and last day of his official visit to Uruguay, Chávez met Wednesday with Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez who strongly supported Venezuela's entry to Mercosur. Brazil and Paraguay have been reluctant to approve Venezuela's incorporation, particularly following an incident when President Chavez called Brazilian senators, "Washington's parrots". President Kirchner's Argentina and Uruguay on the contrary have finished with the incorporation formalities and have promised to lobby before other Mercosur members to speed up approval. "Venezuela has our full support; we want Venezuela inside Mercosur and in the shortest time possible. We'll do our best to ensure this happens", promised President Vazquez. "There have been disagreements and hindrances blocking Venezuela's entry into Mercosur, and slowdown of this process is becoming uncomfortable for us," stated Chávez. Likewise, Chávez denied that his stance amounts to an "ultimatum". A few weeks ago the Venezuelan president threatened he would "only wait until September" for a Mercosur decision, and from then on he felt free to follow his own course. "I am not imposing an ultimatum to other countries' authorities, but we need clear terms in order to pin-up our development plans," added the Venezuelan president. Uruguayan diplomatic sources advanced that the incident with the Brazilian Senate belonged to the past and a "new attitude" was prevailing which anticipated a quick approval of Venezuela's entry. In spite of President Vazquez full support promises the Uruguayan cabinet is divided on the "Chavez issue". Only a couple of weeks ago Finance Minister Danilo Astori addressing Argentine investors in Buenos Aires said that the Venezuelan president confrontational attitude is "not positive for Mercosur". Astori has also been particularly critical of the functioning of Mercosur which he claims has become a two privileged members' club (Argentina and Brazil) which decide and act with scarce consideration for the junior members, Uruguay and Paraguay. He and his team at the Finance Ministry, Central Bank and Planning Office favour closer economic and trade ties with United States. Astori was notoriously absent from all the official events and private meetings held by Uruguayan ministers with the visiting delegation from Venezuela. When asked about his absence, Astori replied to the press he preferred not to talk about the issue.