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Despite Apperances to the Contrary Brazil is Not Pressuring Paraguay on Venezuela

Hugo Chavez from Venezuela Paraguay is the only remaining Mercosur's full member which still has to vote for Venezuela to join the South American trade block, following last week's Brazilian senate divided approval.

The Paraguyan government now says Brazil is not putting any pressure on the Paraguayan Congress to vote the full incorporation of Venezuela to the group.

"Brazil has not officially requested any thing of the sort," said Paraguayan Foreign Affairs minister Hector Lacognata asked on the issue. Venezuela's incorporation depends now only on Paraguay's approval.

Last August, Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo withdrew the initiative after been informed he did not have the sufficient support in the Senate. The catch-all ruling coalition of President Lugo does not have a majority and is also divided on the issue.

Last July Brazil's Lula and Lugo signed several agreements which contemplate some of Paraguay's claims regarding the huge Itaipu dam power plant, the largest operational in the world and shared by the two neighboring countries.

These agreements need congressional approval and the Brazilian side apparently is delaying their consideration.

Asked in Asunción specifically about the possibility that the Brazilian congress could be sitting on the initiatives so as to demand Paraguayan legislators a quick approval for Venezuela to join Mercosur, – of great interest for Brazil and Brazilian corporations-, Lacognata rejected such a possibility.

"Brazil officially has not requested that, I doubt they'd do it because the two issues are not linked in any way," replied Lacognata.

So far the ruling coalition of President Lugo has been unable to muster the necessary votes in the Senate to approve Venezuela's incorporation.

The Paraguayan Senate, as happened with the Brazilian Upper House which froze the matter for months, does not have a short memory and clearly remembers some of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offensive and derogatory statements towards Paraguayan lawmakers such as "oligarchy pawns."

Mercopress

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