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Mercosur summit begins Tuesday among controversy over its effectiveness

Tuesday, June 28th 2011 - 06:12 UTC
Full article 6 comments
 Paraguayan Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Lara Castro Paraguayan Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Lara Castro

The Mercosur summit will be an opportunity to solve asymmetry problems and social inequalities in the region, said Paraguay’ Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Lara Castro. The South American customs union is meeting this week in Asuncion for the first of two annual summits when the rotating chair will be passed on to Uruguay.

“The summit is significant because it is a dialogue and convergence space which allows the countries to solve problems that need the commitment of a shared agenda and the political will to keep advancing in the integration issue”, said Lara Castro.

The two day summit begins Tuesday and the four presidents from Mercosur full members have announced their attendance as well as several leaders from associate members.

Over the weekend the head of the Paraguayan lawmakers at the Mercosur Parliament Parlasur was extremely critical of what the described as “summits’ fever”.

“Mercosur summits have become a display of empty rhetoric, full of protocol and ‘family photos’ but with no full hearted willingness to achieve a solid, fair integration”, claimed lawmaker Alfonso González.

Similarly Paraguay is concerned about efforts from the Argentine government to replace the Mercosur “democratic clause”, dating back to the 1998 Ushuaia Protocol, with the Guyana “Unasur Treaty additional protocol” that would “seriously impair” Paraguayan sovereignty.

According to Article 4 of the treaty, “in case of rupture or threat of rupture of democratic order” in a Unasur member country the following sanctions are enforceable: “partial or total closure of borders including suspension or limitation of trade, air and sea traffic, communications, provision of energy, services and supplies”.

Paraguayan parliament sources said “amendments are totally unacceptable” because Brazil and Argentina would then definitively and unilaterally manage the giant Itaipú and Yaciretá hydroelectric complexes to the detriment of Paraguay, “something which they have always tried to consolidate”.

Paraguay is one of the few countries in the world with a huge surplus of power precisely because of the shared dams.

Furthermore the issue is highly controversial because “who entitles the rest of the countries to take such a drastic determinations based only on a subjective consideration (‘threat or rupture’)”.

“Who defines the ‘rupture threat’” asked Paraguayan legislative sources.

 

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  • GeoffWard2

    Paraguay is concerned about efforts from the Argentine government to replace the Mercosur “democratic clause” (1998 Ushuaia Protocol), with the Guyana “Unasur Treaty additional protocol” that would “seriously impair” Paraguayan sovereignty.
    Article 4 of the treaty states, “in case of rupture or threat of rupture of democratic order” in a Unasur member country, the following sanctions are enforceable: “partial or total closure of borders including suspension or limitation of trade, air and sea traffic, communications, provision of energy, services and supplies”.
    ………………………………
    This ‘Democratic Clause’ MUST be removed/replaced in order to allow Venezuela to become a Mercosur member.
    But removal/replacement of it by the ‘Unasur Treaty additional protocol’ removes the sovereign right of Paraguay to (especially) manage its energy resources.

    The Democratic Clause means that, when Venezuela joins Mercosur, *all members must* partially or totally close borders with Venezuela, suspend or limit trade, air and sea traffic, communication, energy provision, services and supplies. This could be good - it could cause Venezuela to change governance, join the trading world and leave the ‘basket-case’ group.

    Of course, the usual South American political ‘fudge’ will happen,

    but Mercosur has a primary duty to, and responsibility for, its present members.
    The Mercosur Minnows joined the Group for protection, not to be sold down the river by the fraternal interests of the anti-democratic revolutionary (communist) Left.

    Jun 28th, 2011 - 09:55 pm 0
  • ElaineB

    An interesting post, as usual. I was speaking with a South American diplomat (I shall not name him) about Mercosur and its' effectiveness. I think the idea that it is a lot of show but crippled by internal struggles is a common theme. If Venezuela becomes a member it will be a tool for Chavez to use for more attention and assumed power.

    I wonder of Chile's approach, to appear to be a member whilst busy trading freely all over the world, is a more realistic approach. Mercosur seems endlessly mired in internal power struggles.

    Jun 29th, 2011 - 01:38 pm 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Elaine,
    'I wonder of Chile's approach, to appear to be a member whilst busy trading freely all over the world, is a more realistic approach'
    It is realistic but it creates one hell of a lot of unpicking if the trading bloc subsequently acts as an entity.

    Re. my comment at #1, I have re-read the article above and it is ambiguous; my comments may not hold good - it depends on the actual words of the Democratic Clause and the mandatory actions placed on members to 'non-democratic behaviours' by other members.
    There is a lot of wiggle-room and much scope for international lawyers to make even more money.

    If you think that Mercosur is 'mired', what about Parlasur!?
    Nobody knows anything about it, but it is the supra-national Parliament of the Mercosur nations - you know, like the European Parliament, but 'virtual' ;)

    Jun 29th, 2011 - 07:12 pm 0
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