The Uruguayan government revealed on Monday its disagreement with the way Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur was decided last Friday at the summit held in Mendoza, Argentina, and said “it was not the last word” since the process must be reviewed from a juridical point of view.
“Nothing is definitive” and “if everybody had been so sure about it, Venezuela would have become a full member last Friday in Mendoza. That is why country members are taking their time until July 31st”, said Luis Almagro Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs minister.
Almagro also revealed that the decision on Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur was born following a specific request from Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and it all ended with a private meeting of the group’s presidents, besides Rousseff, Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica, behind doors, with Foreign ministers outside.
“I believe the (Uruguayan) government gave ample evidence of having defended the other position with all its strength, but it was finally decided at a closed meeting of the presidents. I don’t think it can be said it was an imposition from Argentina and Brazil, what happened last Friday”, said Almagro.
He added “it all started with a request from Brazilian president Rousseff and the agreement comes out from that closed meeting. The initiative was mainly from Brazil; Brazil’s position in this entire incident has been decisive”.
Almagro said that as Foreign minister when the final declaration on Venezuela’s incorporation was read out, he left the meeting. “I have the same objections about the legality of the procedure, I have to pass the declaration on to the legal services of the ministry and assess once again the juridical implication of the decision. For me the last word on the issue has not been said; we must comply with the Treaty of Asuncion and current legislation because we have always supported and defended Mercosur”.
Asked about the final declaration from the Mercosur summit in which it was decided to suspend Paraguay until new elections are held, Almagro said that the prevailing idea was “to restrict the Paraguayan participation in the different Mercosur organizations; the country has no right to participate in negotiations until the full democratic order is re-established with new elections”.
But “it was also decided not to apply economic or trade sanctions because of their social impact. During the discussions Venezuela that was one of the countries that applied economic sanctions cutting the supply of oil, she was convinced to continue with the shipments”.
As to the status of the new Paraguayan government, Almagro said “it is plain clear that there has been a rupture of the democratic order and without wanting to open a controversy, I think the only ones in the world that have stated there has been no rupture of the democratic system have been members from the Uruguayan opposition. All Unasur countries have unanimously agreed, no matter what political colour, that the situation clearly indicates the existence of an institutional interruption”.
Further details of the Friday meeting indicate that Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota was not in favour of the immediate incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur while Paraguay was suspended. That was when Brazilian president Rousseff asked to be left alone with Cristina Fernandez and Jose Mujica, and the Foreign ministers had to abandon the room.
“Contrary to the position from Patriota, Rousseff proposed the incorporation of Venezuela and Mujica was left alone against the two ladies. Finally he had to yield”, confessed Almagro.
The Uruguayan minister has come under a barrage of criticism in Uruguay for having stated that the Paraguayan situation was a rupture of the democratic system, and for supporting the Venezuelan incorporation.
Before leaving Uruguay for the Mendoza summit, Almagro pledged to members of the opposition and the two congressional foreign affairs committees that there would be no economic or trade sanctions on Paraguay and that Venezuela would not be incorporated to Mercosur taking advantage of the Paraguayan situation. This for the simple reason that the Paraguayan congress had always blocked such a move and the process of admission must be respected.
Almagro also pointed out that what happened in Paraguay was a rupture of the institutional order, not necessarily a “parliamentary coup”, and “we are convinced of what we are saying because we were there when events evolved as witnesses and as part of a fact finding mission together with several colleagues”.
“A parliamentary coup is when Parliament taking advantage of circumstantial majorities forces a situation, abuses a situation. The impeachment is included in the Paraguayan constitution, but what is not included is to run over the guarantees of due process and as any political trial must have the maximum defence guarantees for the head of state”, concluded Almagro.