This coming August 15, Mercosur will lift the suspension on Paraguay's participations that has held since June 29 2012, Uruguay Minister Luis Almagro announced on Thursday during a meeting of the group’s foreign ministers in Montevideo.
Paraguay had anticipated that if the latest incorporation to Mercosur as full member, Venezuela takes the pro tempore chair of the group, it is not interested in returning. Uruguay currently holds the Mercosur presidency and is hosting the summit which on Friday is scheduled to receive member presidents, and from associated countries such as Bolivia.
”We have followed the (April) election process in Paraguay, which will permit on August 15, with the inauguration of president [Horacio] Cartes, the lifting of the suspension,” Almagro said following a meeting with other members of the bloc, under the auspices of the summit for the Common Market Council (CMC).
Paraguay has the support of all Mercosur members, Almagro added, but he confirmed that during the presidential summit on Friday the pro tempore presidency would pass to Venezuela.
The only thing we cannot give [Paraguay] is the presidency that belongs to the new member state. Apart from that, they will always have the friendship of the Mercosur countries, he explained.
Paraguay’s current administration and the next government of president-elect Cartes have stated that they will reject the chance to rejoin if Venezuela takes the presidency. However no definite actions can be expected until Friday when the four Mercosur presidents meet and an announcement is made official.
Nevertheless Mercosur sources admitted that political negotiations are taking place to find a solution that avoids a further deterioration of the already battered Mercosur image, particularly when a new round of trade and cooperation talks with the European Union are scheduled for the fourth quarter, and Brussels demands the participation of the four original full members, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Paraguay has been suspended from the regional bloc, as well as UNASUR and CELAC, for more than a year, as a reaction to the removal of then president Fernando Lugo, who was impeached in the Senate for what was termed ”poor administration and incompetence”.
The removal and replacement by President Federico Franco was done according to the Paraguayan constitution, with a clear majority of votes in the Senate and the acceptance of now Senator-elected Lugo. But Mercosur interpreted that the removal was a ‘congressional coup’ and suspended Paraguay while at the same time in a special summit in Brazil approved the incorporation as full member of Venezuela, which was pending since the original request in 2006.
The Paraguayan Senate refused to accept Venezuela, ruled by former President Hugo Chavez, arguing he was an ‘undemocratic’ leader who limited the activities of the media and the political opposition. Furthermore as a reaction to the suspension last year the last Paraguayan Senate voted specifically against Venezuela’s incorporation.
The incoming Paraguayan government does not want to abandon Mercosur but demands respect for Paraguay’s dignity and compliance with international law, Mercosur institutions and respect for the country’s rule of the law.
Finally it should be added that under the Mercosur charter, all new incorporations must be unanimous and have the attendance of all members.
Argentina and Brazil were anxious to have Venezuela inside Mercosur not only for political or even ideological reasons, but because the oil and gas rich country is a net importer of food and other manufactured goods, plus an excellent market for major infrastructure projects of great interest for Brazilian construction corporations.