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Lula Wins, Brazil’s Senate Committee Says Yes to Venezuela in Mercosur

Foreign relations committee of Brazil's senate Brazil's Senate Foreign Relations Committee gave its green light this Thursday, October 25, to Venezuela to become a full member of Mercosur. The controversial vote ended up 12 votes in favor of the measure against 5 against, proof of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's power to get his way.

Together with Brazilian business leaders Lula had been lobbying Congress to get it to allow Caracas to be part of Mercosur. Now the vote goes to the full house for the final vote. No date has been scheduled for this procedure.

Venezuela's application to enter the Mercosur is pending in the National Congress for more than two years. The official request of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to the Brazilian president was presented in December 2006, In February 2007 Lula sent Congress a message asking the approval from both houses.

The approval occurs the same day president Lula arrives in Venezuela for a working visit with  Chavez.

"The possibility of a veto to Venezuela's admission to the Mercosur is worrisome, because it would represent a hostility act from the Brazilian state against a friendly country," argued the government's leader in the senate, senator Romero Jucá of the PMDB party. "And it would carry serious consequences to commercial, industrial, political and strategic interests of the country and Mercosur."

The congressman also observed that the Senate should not discuss Venezuela's domestic policy and the Hugo Chavez government peculiarities, since the agreement is a state and not a government matter.

Brazil's trade surplus with Venezuela last year rose to US$ 4.6 billion and the Federation of Venezuela-Brazil Chambers of Commerce and Industry has argued that having Venezuela inside would provide firmer rules governing trade relations with South America's third- biggest economy.

"I've personally visited at least half of the 81 senators already," said José Francisco Marcondes, the federation's president.

The Mercosur issue has given the opposition an opening to criticize Lula for his support for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In his report to the committee urging rejection of Venezuela, opposition Senator Tarso Jereissati from Ceará state's PSDB said democratic liberties in the country had eroded with the aim of "keeping President Chavez in power forever."

Brazil's sales to Venezuela, the largest oil exporter in Latin America, climbed to US$ 5.2 billion last year from US$ 706 million in 1998, according to Brazil's Trade Ministry. Odebrecht SA, a Brazilian construction company, has a contract to build a subway and commuter rail in Caracas. Braskem SA, Latin America's biggest petrochemical producer, plans to build two plants in Venezuela.

Of the other Mercosur full members Uruguayan and Argentine lawmakers already approved Venezuela's incorporation and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo withdrew his motion in support last month to prevent a loss in Congress, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Hector Lacognata.

Created in 1991 to promote free trade and the free movement of people and currency, the bloc's leaders agreed July 4, 2006, to invite Venezuela to join.

Less than a year later, Brazilian lawmakers criticized Chavez for refusing to renew the broadcast license of Radio Caracas Television, then Venezuela's most-watched network. Chavez, in turn, called the Brazilian lawmakers "parrots" of Washington.

In August, Chavez closed 32 radio stations and two television broadcasters, saying the government might move against another 285 outlets. But President Lula has repeatedly defended Chavez's tactics.

"I've often been criticized in Brazil for defending the process here in Venezuela, because I know how many elections you have submitted yourself to, how many referendums, polls, and I think this is the exercise of democracy," Lula told Chavez in Maracaibo.

This week however Lula returns to Venezuela to showcase how regional integration promotes Brazilian commercial interests. In Caracas, he'll inaugurate the first branch of state-run Caixa Econômica Federal and visit a farm where Brazilian-developed technology is being used to harvest soy in Venezuela for the first time. He and Chavez will also sign an investment accord for a joint refinery project between state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, PDVSA and Petrobras.

"The government of Venezuela doesn't fulfil Mercosur democratic clause," has repeatedly stated Brazil's former president José Sarney and a Lula ally and leader of the Senate. Sarney, as president, signed the 1985 treaty that laid the ground for Mercosur.

The head of the government coalition in the Senate, Romero Jucá, foresaw a close vote, but said he was confident Venezuela's membership would be approved.

"If there's lack of democracy in Venezuela, as the opposition argues, then it's one more reason to include the country – to add some transparency. Dictatorships don't relate with democratic nations," Jucá said.

Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a leading opponent of Chavez in Venezuela, told the committee he supports Venezuela's integration into the trade bloc.

"Chavez is more dangerous to the region if he's isolated from democratic nations," Ledezma said after listing what he said were authoritarian actions by Chavez that included redrawing the map of Caracas after Ledezma won the mayor's race.

Exclusion from Mercosur would cost Chavez more politically than in trade, tarnishing his regime's legitimacy and lending support to critics who say he has suppressed the media, manipulated elections and controlled the courts, said Rubens Barbosa, Brazil's former ambassador to the United States.

Bzz/MP

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  • Show Comments (6)

  • US_Male

    When a ultra pro business crook like Sarney says NO NO NO..you should know that the real answer is YES YES YES. Venezuela in the Mercosul/Mercosur bad for Brazilians? Hell no..it’s a win, pure more business, if you do the right business. Don’t be afraid for Big mouth Chavez, it’s all hot air and he ain’t going to do anything, than trying to make more money for himself with whoever he can do business with. Is this a win for Venezuela? Maybe in the long term, depends when they have a better leader, but that’s their concern.

  • US_Male

    Trading with countries is good, good or bad, if Brazilian companies can make money, let them, and if Venezuelan companies or small businesses want to invest in Brazil..let them. Forget about Chavez, in the long term he will be removed and you still have trade. Better let Venezuela in now, ignore his crazy talk but keep him close, think about long term, do business and make sure you have surpluses, that’s your business leaders job, Venezuela will think the same. It’s good that they let Venezuela in then when it might be to late.

  • Mickinrio

    I’ve passed on the information…
    Ive passed on the website addresses for your gay/lesbian association to buddies Lula and Chavez…they are passionate friends and should be in touch with you soon pinkpanther!!!

  • pink panther

    Ch.c.
    Hello,

    I am part of a gay and lesbian organisation called Pink Stones. Our main purpose is not to promote homosexuality but to make people aware of it that we are all the same and fight for our rights as human beings. We held a big celebration last month about the Swedish government allowing gay marriages and adoptions.

    We are an European charity based organisation with offices across Europe, our headquarter in Zurich, but we also have offices in North America and now Brazil (since last July).

    I know this is a bit off the topic here, in fact totally off the topic, but I found this website while searching for news related to gay and lesbian communities in Brazil. I felt compelled to comment here after reading the post of ch.c. above!

    I would like to say to you ch.c. that you shouldn’t write that ALL Brazilian gay men are unfaithful because we know this is wrong. A passport doesn’t make a person, but values and morals that we learn do, and besides, you leave a false impression to other gays and lesbians around the world about the Brazilian gay community.

    I can sense you had a bad experience with the gay community here in Brazil, but let me remind you that every person is different.

    May I suggest to you a social website that you may find another companion?

    We promote this website:

    http://www.GayRomeo.com

    This is a social gay website that you can contact other gay men like yourself. You can search by country (This lady above suggested England), by hair color, eyes, age and even size of instruments, but please, please, please, always use protection before accepting people’s flutes in you and one at a time ok?

    I’d like to say to all of you that we are based in Paulista Avenue and our website is: http://www.PinkStones.com

    Thanks..

  • Shelly1


    [quote]We all knew Mr Chavez would be accepted, Robing Hook now has an ally to take South America even deeper into crime and robbery ! [/quote]

    I agree with you there ! Nothing good will come out from their brains combined.

    [quote]BUT BUT BUT Venezuela might teach the Brazilian men how NOT to be unfaithful, not just in relationships … [/quote]

    Oh Dear, I agree they are VERY unfaithful, but honey, you should move on.. Try England, thats where I found my husband and English men are very respectful and loyal to their partners.

  • ch.c.

    Lula Wins, Brazil’s Senate Committee Says Yes to Venezuela in Mercosur
    HAHAHA

    We all knew Mr Chavez would be accepted, Robing Hook now has an ally to take South America even deeper into crime and robbery !

    Robing Hook and Mr Chavez what a fantastic couple !

    BUT BUT BUT Venezuela might teach the Brazilian men how NOT to be unfaithful, not just in relationships …

    JUNKIES, YOUR COUNTRY BRA-ZERO AND ITS POLICIES ARE ALL A REASON OF JOKE !

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