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Paraguayan Senators put a price on Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur

Monday, December 20th 2010 - 16:36 UTC
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Senator Jose Manuel Bóbeda wants Venezuela to invest heavily in the country’s infrastructure Senator Jose Manuel Bóbeda wants Venezuela to invest heavily in the country’s infrastructure

Paraguayan senators reiterated that given certain conditions and political agreements they are prepared to vote for Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur as full member.

This would also be helped if the government of President Hugo Chavez invests in Paraguayan infrastructure, communications, school building and helps create jobs for Paraguayans.

“We remain strong in our position: we will only dialogue, reach consensus and change position if it’s for the benefit of the Paraguayan people; we disagree with the attitude of the Venezuela president and his interpretation of democracy”, said Senator Jose Manuel Bóbeda from Unace, a splinter group from the main opposition force but whose nine Senate votes are crucial for any political arrangement.

“In Brazil he (President Chavez) has invested 40 billion USD. In Argentina he’s helping to build schools and colleges, why doesn’t he invest in Paraguay creating jobs and helping us with the bi-oceanic route, communications and other major works? On the contrary he’s trying to charge us interests on a 400 million USD oil bill”, complained Senator Bóveda.

Senator Blas Llano president from the Liberals, the backbone President Fernando Lugo’s umbrella coalition that is currently atomized also admitted that “under certain conditions and if an agreement is reached with other political sectors, the issue of Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur could be voted during the legislative recess”.

Blas Llano admitted that even when it had not been possible to bring together the necessary votes to approve Venezuela’s incorporation, “it’s a matter of talking and discussing with other groups, dialogue is the essence of politics”.

The ‘aye’ vote for Venezuela needs simple majority in the Paraguayan congress: 22 plus one out of 45 members. The Liberals 14, plus Unace’s 9 and two independents were more than sufficient but earlier this month as the issue was to be voted the whole process was scuttled when it was leaked to the press that a “bonus” of six million US dollars to be split among the two groups was waiting in Argentina.

Nevertheless the political agreement exists because after months of vacancy, clue jobs in the Supreme Court, Electoral Tribunal, Comptrollers’ Office, Attorney General and embassies among others, are in the process of being filled by members nominated by the Liberal-Unace understanding.

However supposedly this time the make up includes approval of Unasur’s (Union of South American Nations) charter and instatement in a Senate bench of a former president (indicted on alleged corruption charges) that has remained stalled because of constitutional interpretations.

“Under some conditions we could even address the issue during the legislative recess. We could summon an extraordinary session”, said the head of the Liberals.

The statements were made over the weekend, during and after the recent Mercosur summit in Brazil when all of the group’s leaders (Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez, Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica) called for a quick vote and approval of Venezuela’s incorporation as a full member.

Venezuela’s request as full member of Mercosur was formalized in December 2006 and received a quick approval from the Argentine and Uruguayan legislates. The Brazilian process was slower and was only reached a year ago following strong lobbying from Lula da Silva and Brazilian corporations that have billions of dollars in contracts in Venezuela. In Paraguay two attempts this year fell through because of a debilitated ruling coalition which has left President Lugo virtually with no support in Congress.

Lula da Silva from Brazil anticipated that “at the most” before March 2011, Venezuela will become a full member of Mercosur.

Categories: Politics, Mercosur, Paraguay.

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