Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Wednesday decided that the upcoming Mercosur Summit, scheduled for Dec. 16 and 17, which was to be the first in a long while under the old face-to-face format, has been reshaped to be held virtually like most recent ones.
Although there were no explanations as to the reasons for the change of mind, press reports have mentioned the likely spread of the new COVID-19 had to do with it. But others ventured it could be due to Argentine President Alberto Fernández's invitation to Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva to appear at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires on Dec. 10 during the celebrations of the 38th anniversary of the return of democratic rule to the country.
According to Brazilian media, another reason may be Bolsonaro's disliking of Uruguay's inflexibility regarding Common External Tariffs (CET).
Brazil currently holds the temporary presidency of Mercosur. The Summit is to convene Presidents of all four member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) plus representatives of associate members.
While in Buenos Aires, Lula will receive the Azucena Villaflor Award on Friday, which the Government of Argentina grants to human rights defenders, Lula's Workers Party (PT) announced in a statement.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly refrained from meeting with Fernández due to the latter's relationship with Lula, whom the far-right leader will take on in the October elections next year. Lula's ties with former Argentine President and current Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner are also said to have deteriorated diplomatic connections between Mercosur's two largest economies despite efforts in the opposite direction by Argentina's Ambassador to Brasilia Daniel Scioli.
Last June Fernández said Brazilians stemmed from the jungle while Argentines descended from ships which brought European migrants into the country, thus fueling animosity between the two leaders.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Lula some two weeks ago in Paris. The French leader has also held meetings with Fernández. But never with Bolsonaro. The Brazilian President called this a provocation.
Lula also met in November during an European tour with several local leaders, while Bolsonaro was kept in the shadows by the same personalities during the G20 Summit in Rome.