The Argentine ambassador to Uruguay, Dante Dovena, assured that authorities are “working intensely” in preparations for the next Mercosur summit scheduled to take place on June 28th in Montevideo. However news form Paraguay doesn’t indicate the same optimism and are demanding respect for ‘the country’s dignity and rule of the law”.
“Our ministry and Argentine delegation before the Mercosur are giving a boost to the first meeting of the regional bloc in which both Venezuela and Paraguay will be present for the first time,” he said.
“We hope there are no inconveniences in order to reinstate Paraguay as a member country after what we went through and that Venezuela can be appointed in the Pro Tempore presidency of the organization without any inconveniences,” he explained.
“I believe these two matters are everybody’s goals,” he said.
Ambassador Dovena was the only Mercosur member representative at that level that attended Paraguay’s national independence day celebration (May 15) in Montevideo. Not even the Uruguayan foreign ministry sent a top ranking official to the reception, President Jose Mujica was represented by the ministry’s head of protocol.
After Horacio Cartes’ victory in the last Paraguayan presidential elections, diplomats from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay said that “they agree to leave without effect the suspension called on the landlocked nation by Mercosur members after former president Fernando Lugo was impeached in June last year.”
However the Paraguayan government and president-elect Cartes have anticipated that Mercosur members “will have to work out how to find respect for the rule of the law in Paraguay”. Cartes added that “the dignity of Paraguay must come out in absolute integrity. If it is going to be blemished, let it remain as it is”
The message was a strong signal to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay that last June decided the suspension of Paraguay because of the removal, following political impeachment, of Fernando Lugo by the country’s Senate, and his replacement by President Federico Franco.
“They will have to find a way so that Paraguayan rule of the law is respected”, insisted Cartes.
Mercosur presidents did in effect congratulate president-elect Cartes on his victory and welcomed the return of Paraguay to the block, but the suspension still is pending and apparently, according to Brazilian sources, won’t be lifted until next August 15, when Franco steps down and is replaced by Cartes.
“We’re not going to return because of money. Paraguay will return with its dignity fully respected; forget about condoning or rebates on Venezuelan oil, what matters is the dignity of Paraguay, the country’s rule of the law must come out with absolute integrity”, insisted Cartes.
The president-elect said Venezuela is not the problem: “however let’s not forget that President Nicolas Maduro is persona non grata for our Lower House and the Senate rejected the incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur”.
Cartes recalled that Paraguay is a founding member of Mercosur, and the charter of Asuncion, and according to those rules the incorporation of any country “must be approved unanimously by the founding members, a decision which in this case did not happen and has injured the dignity and rule of the law in Paraguay”
If as Uruguayan president Jose Mujica said at the time, “the political decision was far more significant than the legality of the incorporation, and thus they feel so much stronger than us, don’t even bother, just leave us here as we are”, emphasized Cartes.
Summing up, Paraguay considers most unfair the suspension from Mercosur because it ignored a sovereign decision of the Senate, the (constitutional) political impeachment that almost unanimously removed Lugo, and based on the suspension and the absence of Paraguay immediately voted the incorporation of Venezuela.
Deceased president Hugo Chavez had requested to join Mercosur since 2006, which needed the approval of all legislatives, but the Paraguayan Senate did not accept such incorporation because it questioned the democratic credentials of Chavez.
“It’s not a problem with the Venezuelan people, but with Chavez and his autocratic regime”, repeatedly pointed out the majority of the Paraguayan Senate which never yielded to Brazilian and Argentine pressure, and which Chavez liked to provoke calling them “oligarchs on the payroll of the empire”.