Uruguayan president Jose Mujica proposed to its South American peers to blend Mercosur and Unasur into an only group, according to an interview with a Uruguayan weekly in which he also ratified his commitment with Venezuela (and its oil resources) to justify the incorporation of the fifth full member of Mercosur.
“I favour and have proposed my peers to transform Mercosur in Unasur or the other way around, so that they become an only group. I don’t know how it would be called but we need to open other institutional paths, which are more flexible and more realistic”, said the Uruguayan leader.
Mujica said he shared his proposal with the presidents from Argentina, Cristina Fernandez; Brazil, Dilma Rousseff; Chile, Sebastián Peñera and Peru’s Ollanta Humala during the recent Mercosur summit in Mendoza which was followed by an emergency meeting of Unasur, Union of South American Nations.
“The region must think and look twenty years ahead and forget the short sightedness, the short terms”, Mujica told his peers.
The president said that with Venezuela inside Mercosur “it’s a three giants match against two weaklings (Uruguay and Paraguay) but with Unasur we can open to other strong countries from the Pacific such as Colombia, Peru and Chile”.
He also argued that Uruguay gave its support for Venezuela’s controversial incorporation to Mercosur, during the Mendoza summit, which was possible following the suspension of Paraguay, “not taking advantage of a circumstantial situation but because we are committed to Venezuela, its oil resources and its reality”.
“We are telling the world: ’wait a minute, we need the oil resources here (in South America)”, explained Mujica. Uruguay imports all of the oil it consumes and Venezuela has become the supplier of 65% of that total.
The way Venezuela was admitted into Mercosur triggered a sour controversy in Uruguay and particularly in the ruling coalition. Vice-president Danilo Astori described it as a “serious blow and injury” because it is “a very harmful serious institutional aggression”.
Astori is considered the architect of Uruguay’s current orthodox policy and the guarantee of the country’s fiscal consolidation, investments and attempts to further open the economy. He has become increasingly critical of Argentina and Brazil’s protectionist policies.
Foreign minister Luis Almagro revealed that Uruguay did not want the access of Venezuela to occur as it happened and that his Ministry will assess the juridical validity of such a move, which must be confirmed at a Mercosur meeting scheduled for July 31 in Rio do Janeiro.
Both Almagro and the Defence minister Fernandez Huidobro have been summoned to Congress to explain what really happened in Mendoza at the summit and to explain the presence during a week in Uruguay of 250 Venezuelan forces, without approval from the Legislative, and which on several occasions in meetings with their peers in military barracks swore allegiance to the Bolivarian Socialist regime of President Hugo Chavez.
Meanwhile Uruguay’s junior opposition party proposed during a long debate in the Lower House of congress that the Mercosur 1991 founding chart be again signed by the presidents and ratified by the four countries parliaments.