Four South American heads of state will be meeting today in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, to discuss regional energy security in the light of Bolivia’s recent decision to nationalize its oil and gas reserves.
Participating are the presidents of Brasil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Venezuela, Hugo Chávez; Bolívia, Evo Morales; and Argentina, Néstor Kirchner. The Brazilian minister of Mines and Energy, Silas Rondeau, will also attend.
In Brazil it is customary when the president travels abroad for someone who remains behind in the country to be sworn in as acting president. Usually that would be the vice president.
However, this is an election year and Brazilian election laws make it mandatory for many office holders to resign if they are candidates for certain elective offices.
The vice president, José Alencar, will probably be a candidate for either the Congress or a governorship, so he is ineligible to be acting president.
Next in line is the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros (PMDB-AL), and then the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Aldo Rebelo (PCdoB-SP) and then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Ellen Gracie Northfleet.
If Calheiros and Rebelo travel with Lula to Argentina, Ms Northfleet would become Brazil’s first ever female president, although only for about 10 hours.
This is little more than a week after she became the country’s first ever Chief Justice (she became the first female member of the Supreme Court in 2000).