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Chávez Calls for Venezuela’s Mercosur Incorporation Before Lula da Silva Leaves Office

Thursday, April 29th 2010 - 07:50 UTC
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The Venezuelan leader said his Brazilian peer has been decisive in keeping Mercosur alive The Venezuelan leader said his Brazilian peer has been decisive in keeping Mercosur alive

President Hugo Chávez expects Venezuela will be fully incorporated to Mercosur before Brazilian president Lula da Silva steps down from office next January first. The two leaders met Wednesday in Brasilia and also agreed to strengthen Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

“President Lula da Silva was one of the main promoters of Venezuelan incorporation to Mercosur and I expect he can see this aspiration effectively crystallized before he finishes his current mandate”, said Hugo Chávez. “We respect the political timing of Paraguayan politicians but let’s hope the full Mercosur membership of Venezuela is ratified, by Paraguay, before Lula da Silva leaves office”, pointed out Chávez during a press conference following bilateral talks.

The incorporation of Venezuela as full member of Mercosur was approved by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in 2006, but the issue is pending ratification from the Paraguayan Congress where apparently there is insufficient support. Venezuela’s aspiration was also exposed to strong resistance in the Brazilian Congress, but was finally ratified last December following long debates in the House about Chávez “authoritarian style” and “lack of democracy” in the country.

In reference to UNASUR, Lula da Silva described it “as a consolidated institution, but many times we expect a lot from it and we forget that the European Union took 50 years to reach its institutional maturity,” said Lula da Silva.

Chávez spoke about his desire of seeing Venezuela in Mercosur following a question from a journalist who asked him about Paraguayan Vice-President Federico Franco statement that a vote on the issue would be taken in the near future. “I was not aware of the statements from Paraguay’s vice-president, but I hope it really happens and very soon in honour to our friend Lula da Silva”, said Chávez, who emphasized the Brazilian president’s decisive influence in keeping Mercosur alive.

“If Lula da Silva had not been elected president of Brazil, Mercosur would have been pulverized. The creation of the (US sponsored) Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA) had as its main purpose to eliminate Mercosur and all the other Latinamerican integration mechanisms”, said the Venezuelan president. Chávez recalled that although he had requested Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur after his election, “it was not until Lula da Silva took office that the initiative really took off.” He also said that Lula da Silva had an active participation in convincing the Brazilian congress to ratify Venezuela’s incorporation.

“Now we are waiting for the political timing of our brotherly and dear Republic of Paraguay,” concluded the Venezuelan leader. ”There were those that did not believe in Mercosur, who wanted the ALCA, and they did not believe in UNASUR,“ said Lula da Silva, underlining the support that he received from Chávez in the fight to reach agreements between countries of that region.

The next UNASUR meeting, to be held in Buenos Aires on May 4, was another issue discussed by the two leaders in the framework of quarterly meetings. ”We discussed some things about UNASUR, and the new secretary general will probably come from there,” said Chávez. In addition, although both Lula da Silva and Chávez had said that they would support the candidacy of ex Argentine President Néstor Kirchner for Unasur Secretary General, nothing was mentioned at this meeting.

The two delegations finally signed agreements on energy use, industry, commerce and infrastructure.

Categories: Politics, Mercosur.

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