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Lula Is About to Fulfill His Wish of Getting His Good Friend Chavez in Mercosur PDF Print E-mail
2009 - November 2009
Written by Thomaz Alvares de Azevedo e Almeida   
Friday, 20 November 2009 02:10

Lula and Chavez On July 4, 2006, representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay met in Caracas to sign the protocol for the entrance of Venezuela into the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). After two and a half years, the protocol was approved by the legislative bodies of Argentina and Uruguay, and as of now it may be only days away from being ratified by the continent's economic megalith, Brazil.

Already, Brazil's Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved Caracas' long-running attempt to achieve full membership in Mercosur- the common market of the Southern Cone.

On December 17, 2008 the plenary of the House of Representatives in Brasilia approved "Legislative Decree 387/07," which summarized the protocol for the entrance of Venezuela into Mercosur. Just a few days ago, on October, 29, the Committee for International Relations and National Defense of the Brazilian Senate voted in favor of the entrance of Venezuela into the South American Southern Cone economic bloc, which means that the matter will now await the plenary vote of the Senate.

Although Paraguay postponed its congressional vote until 2010, (after the debate in Brazil is over), it is expected that Asunción will follow Brazil's lead. Thus, the entry of Venezuela into Mercosur may well lie in the hands of Brazilian senators, and despite President Lula's support, its approval will be no easy task.

Reasons for Resisting Venezuela's Admission

There are two main arguments that have been invoked by opposition figures in the senate to negate granting Venezuela Mercosur membership. Senator Tasso Jereissati, a member of the Senate Committee for International Relations and National Defense, has opposed the ratification of the protocol for the entrance of Venezuela. He argues that Venezuela does not have free and fair elections, since many of its institutions that espouse opposition to President Chávez are persecuted.

This argument makes reference to the non-renewal of the Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which frequently has criticized the Chávez administration. On that occasion, several Brazilian congressmen publicly denounced President Chávez, who in sharp terms, boasted in 2007 that the Brazilian Congress, "repeats as a parrot what the U.S. Congress says about Venezuela." Now, it is up to a number of those congressmen to decide Venezuela's future regarding Mercosur.

In addition to the claims that Caracas lacks basic democratic standards to qualify for the Mercosur membership, Brazilian senators, both allied with Lula's administration, as well as arranged against it, agree that accepting the volatile President Chávez into Mercosur might bring political instability to the bloc.

Opposition figures, like Senator Heráclito Fortes, have adamantly stressed Chávez's splenetic relations with the United States and Europe, which reached their peak when Chávez called former President Bush the devil, and when Spain's King Juan Carlos charged that President Chávez should "shut up."

Allies, like Senator José Sarney, former Brazilian President and currently President of the Senate, have also have stressed the ongoing combative relations between the Chávez administration and other South American countries. These tensions became particularly acute a few days ago, after President Chávez called upon Venezuelans to be ready if Colombian forces struck out against Venezuela.

Reasons in Favor

The likely arguments that will be used to defend Venezuela's entry into Mercosur are composed, in fact, of two counter-arguments and one projection. Regarding the accusations that Venezuela does not meet democratic standards, senators in favor of granting Venezuela Mercosur membership may claim that the alliance is an economic bloc and that it cannot impose measures of internal politics.

Ironically, many of those who oppose Chávez are in favor of his country's entrance into Mercosur. In order to support this latter claim, Senators might be wise to invoke the position of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma who, albeit a political adversary of the Chávez administration, is currently in Brasilia lobbying Brazil's senate chamber to allow Venezuela in the economic bloc.

Regarding the claims that Caracas' entrance would transmit political instability to Mercosur, many experts like Professor Gil Marques of the Faculdades Integradas Rio Branco, have highlighted that instability is not new to Mercosur. For instance, since early October, products from Argentina have been held in Brazilian customs indefinitely, instead of receiving automatic authorization to enter the country.

As a result, numerous cases of wheat, flour, wine, olive oil and currant have spoiled. Although Brasilia refuses to admit it, this may be a form of retaliation against Buenos Aires for toughening up on the requirements allowing Brazilian shoes and electronics to enter Argentina.

Moreover, Venezuela has a population of almost 30 million that has limited access to products made in Brazil. With Venezuela as a new addition to Mercosur, Brazilian enterprises might be able to export more industrialized products to Venezuela, especially in the automobile, agricultural, livestock, textile and electronics sectors. Brasilia also has a strategic interest in increasing commerce with Venezuela, which could provide an economic boost to Brazil's northern region, one of the least developed parts of the country.

The Future of Mercosur

The dream of a more integrated South America is generally shared by several of the Mercosur leaders, and is also strongly advocated by Chávez. However, it is unclear whether the boost in economic integration experienced by Mercosur would translate into increased political integration as well.

Regardless of Venezuela's participation in Mercosur, it will be interesting to see how much Mercosur will grow in volume of trade in the future, if at all. That is, the question can be raised, whether Mercosur will remain as an exclusive economic bloc, or if it will seek new members over time. This is a question that the leaders of Mercosur will need to answer, with or without the sometimes prickly President Chávez.

Thomaz Alvares de Azevedo e Almeida is a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) - The organization is a think tank established in 1975 to discuss and promote inter-American relationship. Email:

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Comments (6)Add Comment
Brazil should show its clout by voting: YES to Venezuela's entry into Mercosur
written by Ricardo C. Amaral, November 20, 2009

Brazil should approve Venezuela's entry into Mercosur for various reasons including the following:

1) Venezuela will become a new market for Brazilian goods and technology.

2) It would also show to the world Brazil’s independence from the US circle of influence.

The Wall Street Journal - an American newspaper that used to be a good financial newspaper many years ago - but it has been in decline for many years and today, in my opinion, is nothing more than a second rate newspaper - their second rate writers believe that if Brazil does not follow what the United States think it is acceptable foreign policy then Brazil losses its standing as a successful emerging economic power of the new century.


November 20, 2009

SouthAmerica: The headline on The Wall Street Journal of today “Brazil's New Standing Threatened by Ahmadinejad Visit” at best it is a laughable piece of news.

“The Wall Street Journal" regarding Brazil

Ricardo Amaral
written by João da Silva, November 20, 2009
The Wall Street Journal - an American newspaper that used to be a good financial newspaper many years ago - but it has been in decline for many years and today, in my opinion, is nothing more than a second rate newspaper

You mean to say that in spite of Rupert Murdoch´s promise to maintain the "integrity" of the journal? smilies/wink.gif

Reply to Joao da Silva
written by Ricardo C. Amaral, November 22, 2009

I stopped reading The Wall Street Journal a long time ago – many years before Rupert Murdoch bought that newspaper.

I read the Financial Times (UK) on a daily basis, that newspaper is a superior financial publication and the quality of the writers of the Financial Times (UK) and their grasp of economics and financial issues it is superior and many levels above when compared with The Wall Street Journal.

South American contries should Ice Colombia 100 percent
written by Ricardo C. Amaral, November 24, 2009

November 24, 2009

SouthAmerica: The time to act in South America it is now. All the countries in South America should Ice Colombia 100 percent. All the countries in South America should call back their ambassadors stationed in Colombia and close their Embassy, and stop any kind of trading with Colombia until they recover their lost nation sovereignty and are free again from foreign military occupation.


“US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America”
From the Caribbean to Brazil, political opposition to US plans for 'full-spectrum operations' is escalating rapidly
By Hugh O'Shaughnessy
The Independent (UK)
Sunday, 22 November 2009

The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development – and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it – is further exacerbating America's already fractured relationship with much of the continent.

You can continue reading the rest of this article at:


Adult Responsibilities
written by C. Brayton, November 24, 2009
I have this half-baked theory that giving Hugo some adult responsibilities might actually calm the Bolivarian Blowhard, forcing him to make the trains run on time and stuff like that. Just me.
written by anonymous, December 28, 2009
While there may be economic advantages to increasing further trade with Venezuela, it seems Mercosur would only further legitimize the repressive undemocratic practices of Chavez by accepting him. And while South American nations should be rightly working towards a more united continent, it seems that by inviting Chavez, they would be promoting one of the most divisive, arrogant, militaristic, demagogues, and I suspect, despite his Bolivarean-aspirations, he is more likely to cause friction, hostility and even further discord among nations. I think Lula should not be hugging and befriending either Chavez or Iraninan dictator, Ahmoud Ahmadinejad if they wish to gain international respect. It doesn't matter if either of these rulers can provide some kind of economic or strategic benefit to Brazil, if the price means that Lula, and Brazil, need to overlook their undemocratic repressive practices. I once thought of Lula as an advocate of the downtrodden. Now I think he is shamefully courting leaders with horrible human rights records. While Lula may be doing the right thing in Honduras, in regards to Venezuela and Iran, he seems to be ignoring human rights violations in order to make a deal. Brazil should be against such deals not because this is what the US wants, but simply because it is the right and fair thing to do. Surely, Lula and Brazil can find better issues in which they demonstrate their independence from the US than by hugging repressive leaders. At this very moment in Iran, the police are beating, torturing, arresting, and murdering innocent Iranians who have been protesting peacefully the rigged elections there. And Lula wants to hug and befriend this man? This is the same leader that declares openly that the holocaust never occurred and that he would wipe Israel off the face of the earth if they obtained nuclear weapons. Lula is looking reckless and insensitive by hugging this man. This is not just the opinion of the US, the EU as well as most middle eastern neighbors of Iran, are very concerned that such a loose cannon is pursuing nuclear weapons. And Lula, naively advocates for Iran's right to pursue nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes. Does he really believe they are for peaceful purposes? It seems that the entire bloc of EU countries understand the danger of this man. Why would Lula befriend him or Chavez? For someone pursuing a permanent seat at the UN, such deals seem to diminish Lula and Brazil. Lula much more to offer the world and the UN by advocating for the poor, and not in dealing with tyrants and war-mongering leaders.

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