United States considers Mercosur as an “anti American” organization and fears the incorporation of Venezuela to the group made up of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay according to one of the latest Wikileaks to see light in the River Plate press.
“Mercosur gradually has transformed from an imperfect customs union to a more restrictive and anti-American organization”, points out a cable which resumes some of the conclusions of a meeting of US ambassadors from Southern Cone countries and which took place in Rio do Janeiro in May 2007.
The US diplomats believe that the incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur “would clearly alter the balance and dynamics of the organization”.
The ambassadors met to analyze Southern Cone countries prospects under the influence of (Venezuela’s) Hugo Chavez”.
The incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur remains blocked in spite of the fact that the protocol was signed in March 2006 and that three parliaments have already approved the initiative. The last hurdle is the Paraguayan Congress where the government of President Fernando Lugo does not have the sufficient votes for the approval.
The ambassadors also analyzed the impact and influence of Chavez in the region and concluded that “his campaign to expand influence in the Southern Cone operates in multiple fields and rests to great extent but not entirely, in a generous energy aid and investment agreements”.
The US ambassadors believe “few countries have been able to resist the attraction of Venezuelan aid and investment packages” but they also underlined that “even when Chavez influence in the region expanded significantly, regional leaders are suspicious of hits motives and objectives”.
Many of those leaders agree with Chavez message that the Southern Cone and above all South America must “establish a separate identity from US hegemony, but they don’t feel comfortable if they are used”.
“United States can’ expect leaders from the region to come to our defence”, but the ambassadors estimate that “the correct reply to Chavez” is a democratic and inclusive community that ensures a more prosperous future for its citizens.
The Wikileak reveals a certain rivalry for the main stage between Chavez and former Brazilian president Lula da Silva and estimates that “such friction offers an advantage to US interests”.
“What made Brazil support the incorporation of Venezuela was the belief that Chavez could be better controlled if he was inside Mercosur, than if he was left on his own and to his own inspiration”.
The cable also mentions differences between Chavez and the deceased and former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner (2003/2007).
“Kirchner tried publicly to distance himself from the anti-American position of Chavez and tried to keep a public opinion perception of a more independent line with the purpose of attracting the middle class voter in Argentina, but his economic strategy clearly is after closer links with Chavez in trade and finance”, reads the Wikileak cable from the US diplomats.
According to the US interpretation Kirchner was trying to balance the relation with the Bolivarian leader and although the Argentine former president “shared some of the left positions sponsored by Chavez, he’s above all a pragmatic leader”.
The cable was published in the Buenos Aires daily, Pagina 12 Sunday edition, one of over 2.000 cables on Argentina delivered by Wikileaks to the Argentine press.