Brazil’s Special Presidential Adviser for International Affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia, defended the decision to suspend Paraguay from the Mercosur economic block after the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo and refuted statements by the Foreign Minister of Uruguay, Luis Almagro, who claimed that Brazil pressured in favor of Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur as a full member.
The only reason Venezuela was not yet a full Mercosur member was that the Paraguayan congress had not ratified its entrance.
In interviews with the Uruguayan press, Almagro said that his country was opposed to the inclusion of Venezuela in Mercosur, but due to pressure by the governments of Brazil and Argentina during the Mercosur summit last week in Mendoza, Argentina, it was decided that the country of Hugo Chavez will be part of the block as of July 31.
“Brazil’s position at the summit in Argentina was based on strong legal criteria, we requested a detailed brief on the situation from our government legal office (Advocacia-Geral da União) to see what alternatives were available.
Both the suspension of Paraguay and Venezuela’s entry in Mercosur, which had already been approved by Congress [in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay], received solid support in the legal opinion by the AGU,” explained Garcia, who went on to say that putting pressure on other countries does not match the style of Brazilian diplomacy or that of president Dilma Rousseff, especially in situations involving neighboring nations.
“We did not apply pressure on other countries,” said Garcia. “The decision was made by the three presidents and their foreign ministers. It reflected a political consensus. Brazil does not do this kind of thing and even less so with governments like Uruguay and Argentina where there is such an intimate association both geopolitically and on the personnel level. “
Garcia said Dilma maintained the decision by Mercosur not to apply economic sanctions against Paraguay and that as a result Venezuela backtracked on its decision to suspend fuel shipments.
“There was an agreement by president Chavez to keep the fuel supply to Paraguay flowing and we greatly appreciate that decision.”
The Brazilian government, according to Garcia, maintains a series of economic commitments with Paraguay despite the political crisis, including the construction of a transmission line between the Itaipu hydroelectric power plant and the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion. “Brazil will not create any economic difficulties,” concluded Garcia.