Fearful of Losing Brazil Government Postpones Senate Vote on Venezuela

Brazilian senate The Brazilian senate announced late tonight that by agreement between the leaders of government and opposition, the vote on the draft legislative decree (PDS 430/08) approving the Protocol of Accession of Venezuela to the Mercosur was moved to Tuesday of next week, December 15.

The decision was made at the request of the government leader, Romero Jucá from the PMDB party, after finding out that the Lula administration might not have the needed quorum to win in plenary. The agreement reached provides that he matter will not be discussed again next week.

The senate was divided between those backing Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who wants Venezuela into the Mercosur and the opposition who sees the action as a bad move for Brazil mainly due to the fact that the Hugo Chavez is the Venezuelan president.

Senator Mozarildo Cavalcanti from the PTB announced that he was voting yes, "mutilating his convictions," because, although he believe the accession of Venezuela to Mercosur will bring numerous problems – including in relation to negotiations with other countries and trading blocs – he recognizes the economic advantages of integration of the country to the block.

The leader of the Democrats, Senator José Agripino supported the rejection of Venezuela saying the country's president, Hugo Chavez, is always acting against Brazil. Agripino said he has nothing against the neighboring country, but that its entry into the Mercosur means adding Hugo Chavez to the block.

Agripino recalled that whenever there is divergence of interests between Brazil and other countries, Chavez stands against Brazil. He cited as examples the invasion of the Petrobras refinery by Evo Morales's troops in Bolivia, the case of Paraguay with regard to revision of Itaipu agreement, the conflict with a Brazilian construction company in Ecuador and trade disputes between Brazil and Argentina. For him, if Chavez becomes part of Mercosur, with veto power, Brazil can lose a lot.

As an aside, Senator Kátia Abreu agreed with Agripino's arguments and said that Hugo Chavez showed "pathological narcissism" in his actions.

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