President Hugo Chavez said that the incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur was “exemplary” because it never yielded to “blackmail” from the Paraguayan extreme right and revealed that he met with Paraguayan Senator Lino Oviedo, considered the mastermind behind those attempts.
“The way Venezuela was included in Mercosur is exemplary, a very dignified way”, said Chavez during a press conference on his return to Caracas from Brasilia where on Wednesday the presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay sanctioned Venezuela’s incorporation as a full member of the regional trade group.
Chavez said that for over six years the Paraguayan extreme right “authoritarian enclave”, playing to the interests of the ‘US empire’ denied “Venezuela access to Mercosur by systematically refusing, in the Senate, to approve the legislative confirmation of the accord adopted by the four countries back in 2006”.
Venezuela’s incorporation as full member of Mercosur was approved 29 June at an extraordinary summit of the block which also suspended Paraguay as a member because of the removal of Fernando Lugo as president and his replacement by until then Vice-president Federico Franco.
Chavez underlined the efforts of former Brazilian and Argentine presidents, Lula da Silva and Nestor Kirchner, as well as President Lugo to have the Paraguayan Senate approve the inclusion of Venezuela that had been agreed by the four full members in 2006.
“There was no way; the last straw was a group of those Senators asking for money, a little bunch of them pretended millions of dollars to vote in favour of Venezuela” revealed Chavez and recalled that following on suggestions from former Brazilian president Lula da Silva last year he flew to Brazil where he met for several hours with “Paraguayan Senator and retired general Lino Oviedo” one of the most recalcitrant opponents of his country’s entry.
“It was four long hours, and while with Oviedo in Brazil we called Lugo and spoke with him. I told him: look President I’m here with Senator Oviedo and later Oviedo suggested ringing Nicanor (former Paraguayan president Nicanor Duarte 2003/2007) who is also a Senator” indicated Chavez.
He added that by doing so “I actually got involved in Paraguayan politics by indicating the interest of Paraguay, Venezuela and Mercosur” for the project to go ahead.
“Those in Venezuela who argue that Venezuela was accepted in a non dignified way are wrong. I say No, completely the opposite undignified would have been to succumb to the blackmail to those who ask for corruption money”, he insisted.
Finally “I told Nicanor: forget it, the time will come, and yes the time and opportunity came and we are now full decent members of Mercosur”.
He added those not worthy of dignity are those “who promoted the impeachment that led to the summary removal of Lugo from the presidency. They walked into the palace through the backdoor and through the backdoor they will be expelled by the Paraguayan people because sooner or later the Paraguayan people will know what to do”.
Furthermore Chavez pledged Venezuela will be the first to vote for the return of Paraguay to democratic Mercosur and to Unasur, once “Paraguay is back on the track of democracy as we hope with the April 2013 elections”.
Chavez finally said that Venezuela historically has been the backyard of the US empire, “but now no longer we are at the head of Mercosur, our north is in the south”, recalling that the long path to Mercosur started in 2004 when the Economic Complementation agreement was signed between Mercosur with Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.