The Mercosur controversy has moved to New York far away from the spotlights of regional media, since the presidents of the four founding members are scheduled to address the UN General Assembly this week, and are expected to hold a series of meetings on the sidelines of the major global event.
The most significant of Mercosur bilateral meetings will be that of Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez with his Brazilian peer Michel Temer.
In effect Uruguay has tried by all means to prevent fifth full member Venezuela from being ousted of the group as is the prevailing consensus between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The three members argue that Venezuela in the midst of a grave political situation has not complied with its commitment to adopt Mercosur legislation (allegedly 300 pieces) as promised when it was accepted as a full member in 2012. The time for the incorporation of the legal package and treaties was over last August.
Likewise the three insist that Venezuela has lost its democratic credentials by putting all sorts of obstacles to impede a recall referendum on president Nicolas Maduro future, has closed media outlets, holds political prisoners and is threatening to shut down Congress dominated by the opposition. Furthermore Venezuela ignoring established procedure has self proclaimed the presidency of Mercosur, which is ignored by the three and have given Maduro until December first to comply with incorporating Mercosur legislation or the ousting process will begin, the first step on that date will be the loss of its full membership.
Uruguay on the other hand believes Venezuela has the right to hold the chair since it is its alphabetical turn in the second half of the year, as established in the Mercosur charter. However Uruguay finally yielded, and abstained, allowing a consensus to name four representatives, one from each country, on a temporary basis, to manage Mercosur and avoiding the immediate ousting of Venezuela.
The three stances are exposed to much controversial argument, but in the case of Uruguay, the bilateral relation with Brazil has been further strained. Foreign minister Nin Novoa alleged before Parliament that Brazil tried to buy Uruguay's position in Mercosur against Venezuela, which he had to later deny and apologize. Likewise Uruguay was critical of the way ex president Dilma Rousseff was removed and replaced by Michel Temer, unjustified and regretful.
The new administrations in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay loath the ideological turn that Mercosur adopted during the years of the Kirchners, Lula da Silva, Rousseff and Mujica.
But not only is Brazil the leading country in South America with the largest economy in Latin America, but also the main trading partner of Uruguay, and to a certain extent competitor in agriculture commodities. An idea of this happened in Korea when Agriculture minister Blairo Maggi told his counterparts where did they think they could sell more Hyundais, in Uruguay or Brazil, so the beef deal has to be with Brazil.
The Temer-Vazquez meeting is expected sometime this Monday. Vazquez is also scheduled to address the Council of Americas on Monday and meet top officials from US corporations and banks, and with WHO Director General Margaret Chan. The Uruguayan president will be honored with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health prize for the country's anti tobacco campaign.
On Tuesday morning Vazquez is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly.