Brazilian businessmen requested Congress on Thursday to freeze plans for Venezuela's incorporation to Mercosur following President Hugo Chavez threats to nationalize those private companies contrary to the constitutional reform of his making which Venezuelans will be voting Sunday in a referendum.
"We can't remain silent to the threat from Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez to confiscate those companies affiliated to the Federation of Production Chambers and Associations, (Fedecamaras), for their opposition to the constitutional reform", reads an official release in Brasilia from the Confederation of Trade and Business Associations from Brazil, CACB. The release signed by the organization's president Alencar Burti states that Brazilian businessmen understand that "democracy accepts backings and criticisms" and warns about the current "threat" to freedom of expression and private property rights in Venezuela. Concern about these threats is closely linked to "Venezuela's imminent participation as full member of Mercosur", which now depends on the approval from the Congresses of Brazil and Paraguay. Argentina and Uruguay legislatives have approved the proposal. CACB argues that "accepting in Mercosur a country whose leader attempts against what has been the struggle of businessmen for over 200 years, freedom of enterprise, can only generate doubts". Based on these circumstances CACB calls on the Brazilian Congress and government "to review its position of support for Venezuela as full member of Mercosur while restrictions to freedom of expression and pressures on those who do not agree with the government, persist". This week during a political rally Chavez warned that he could decide to nationalize those companies that actively participate in the campaign against the constitutional reforms he is sponsoring and will be voted in a referendum next Sunday. Chavez made the warning following on Fedecamaras spokesperson Jose Manuel Gonzales call "to vote against" the constitutional reform and asking Venezuelans citizens to march and "actively express" their disapproval of the new constitution.