Venezuela’s incorporation as a full member of Mercosur has been secured following the confirmation of a political agreement in Paraguay, the only of the four-country group that still had a vote pending in congress.
According to the Paraguayan press the agreement reached between President Fernando Lugo and the opposition, as has been advanced by Mercopress, includes seats in crucial organizations such as the Supreme Court, Comptrollers Office, Electoral Court, Attorney General, Foreign Service and a positive vote on Venezuela’s request to join Mercosur as full member and on the Unasur (Union of South American Nations) charter.
The Lugo administration needs 23 of 45 votes in the Senate to have the two initiatives approved and mathematically they can be reached between the Liberals and Unace, a splinter group from the main Colorado opposition party.
The Liberals were the main force behind the now atomized coalition that supported Lugo for president and Unace is described as a ‘pbp’ (principles but pragmatic) group led by a former general, Lino Oviedo, who spent time for organizing a coup but has a strong support in Paraguayan rural and impoverished areas since he is fluent in Guaraní the aborigine language.
According to sources from the Interior Ministry that is leading negotiations there are two possible scenarios: next month during the recess when the Congressional standing committee that takes over next December 21will have the necessary votes to consider the issue and call an extraordinary meeting of both chambers, or even this week, and on time for President Lugo to arrive at the Mercosur summit with the Venezuelan membership under his arm.
The agreement also includes a positive vote of the Unasur charter which only turned “legitimate” this month when the Uruguayan congress voted aye, rendering the ninth out of twelve approvals needed for such formality.
Venezuela’s formal request dates back to December 2006. The Argentine and Uruguayan lawmakers soon approved the initiative but the Brazilian congress only complied December 2009 following on strong lobbying from President Lula da Silva and Brazilian corporations.
The Paraguayan Senate has been reluctant to vote on the issue because of internal political problems (weakness of the Lugo administration) and Venezuelan President Chavez attitudes towards the opposition and the press which have been a good excuse to contain Brazilian and Argentine pressures on lawmakers.
The opposition Colorado party claims that besides the political agreement, Venezuela allegedly has sent an ‘incentive bonus’ (six million US dollars) deposited in an Argentine bank for the two political groups voting on the incorporation.