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Chí¡vez Declares in Brazil that Neoliberalism Is Dead in LatAm

The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said today, January 19, at the opening of the meeting for Mercosur heads of state, in southeastern Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro, that "there never have been such favorable conditions" for the integration of the bloc and of South America as a whole.

Lula made an assessment of Brazil's term in the rotating presidency of Mercosur, which ends today and will be passed on to Paraguay.

Lula recalled the implementation of the Mercosur Parliament, in December, and the approval of the first projects to be financed by the Mercosur Structural Convergence Fund (Focem).

"The implementation of Parliament inaugurates a new institutional era for the bloc, and the Focem will bring undeniable benefits to the smaller countries," he said.

The Focem is aimed at financing development projects in the bloc's countries. According to Lula, resources are already available for carrying out the projects that have been approved.

The president also mentioned the bloc's first Social Summit, also held in December. "Social dialogue is essential," he claimed. The Common Market Council approved the creation of a Social Institute, of a Training Institute and of a Democracy Observatory.

In the financial field, he talked about the US$ 200 million invested by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) in the Andean Development Corporation (CAF). He also highlighted the decision made by Brazil and Argentina of making bilateral transactions using local currency. "This may extend to the remaining countries," he said.

The Mercosur is comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Lula said a group will be created to deal with the bio-fuels sector, with the objective of creating projects for production and consumption among member countries.

In the foreign realm, Lula called attention to the advance in negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a bloc comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman.

Lula also spoke on the entry of Venezuela in the bloc, which took place during the last semester, and on the entry request made by Bolivia. "Our brothers in Bolivia are welcome, as well as other who wish to join us," he said.

Lula recalled, though, that the reasons that prompted the creation of Mercosur, namely to attain regional integration in order to face globalization, still exist, and are even more apparent now.

Lula also spoke of the need to create a Southern Bank and to build the Gas Pipeline of the South, to link the gas producing regions in Venezuela to Brazil and, later on, to other countries in the region.

The president of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, said, in turn, that Mercosur must grow deeper and larger. "We need to commit ourselves further to the creation of a shared strategic view," he said. Kirchner suggested the establishment of a reflection group to devise an "ideological agenda" for the region.

The president of Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte, said in his speech that the bloc's member countries must let go of disloyal competition. Paraguay will be the president of Mercosur during the next six months.

Duarte called for a new phase in the bloc, one of building the needed physical infrastructure for the region's integration. Most of all, he highlighted the need for integration in the energy field.

"Integration in the energy sector is of utmost importance for reducing our differences, as energy is a key development factor for poorer countries," he claimed. "For the countries that have neither oil nor gas, the future is uncertain," he said.

Duarte also called for fairer trade. Paraguay and Uruguay, the bloc's smallest countries, have been requesting special treatment regarding certain trade issues in Mercosur.

Increased Flexibility

Along the same lines, the president of Uruguay, Tabaré Vásquez, defended more flexible regulations for poorer countries, including rules of origin of goods. "The people want the commitments to be met," he said.

"There is a need for more flexibility, especially for smaller economies," Vásquez claimed. He said, for instance, that Uruguay has a US$ 1 billion deficit in trade with the remaining Mercosur countries.

Uruguay is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States, but Vásquez said, though, that his country believes in the process of regional integration, and wants a bigger and better Mercosur. For such, he stated that fair treatment must be dispensed to all member states.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, in turn, spoke for greater governmental presence in the economies of the countries in the region.

He criticized "imperialism" and institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Chávez called for the resumption of ideological and political debate. "The neo-liberal age in Latin America is over," said Chávez.

The president of Venezuela also defended the establishment of trans-regional companies – such as one Petrosul, for instance -, turned to oil prospecting.

Also participating in the Mercosur Summit are presidents of countries associated with the bloc and invited guests, such as Michelle Bachelet, from Chile, ílvaro Uribe, from Colombia, Rafael Correa, from Ecuador, Ronaldo Ronald Vanetiaan, from Suriname, and the Prime Minister of Guiana, Samuel Archibald Anthony Hinds.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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  • Stephen

    Oh My God , here we go again!
    Hey Ch.c
    Right on. 200 miiion would not even build two 5* 250 room hotels.What a joke.Kids playing with the grown ups and they think they know better

    {In the financial field, he talked about the US$ 200 million invested by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) in the Andean Development Corporation (CAF)}

    The colonial legacy’s are long gone. USA and Canada ( once colonies and 500 years old..Smart and democratic) Brazil once a colony.500 years old.. Not smart and bureuacratic !!! President Cardoso said .. “export or die. but be sure you add value”
    The major car and food processors are all multi nationals.. Nestle..Unilever. Kraft. Sadia is big but in comparison it is an ant.
    Ford. GM. Volkswagen, Fiat. All relevant tecnology is from the 1st world. Remember Brazilians will tell you they created the ToothPick. And they are proud of it.. Merde….

  • Rodrigo

    RE: He is Dead Wrong
    Duarte was talking specifically about the countries of SOUTH AMERICA that do not have oil or gas, not about countries in general. And he also quite specifically was talking about “poorer countries”. Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden are all developed nations, and are far from having the terms of trade and colonial legacy that the nations of S. America do.

  • ch.c.

    Funny….Lula !
    Quite curious his statement : “For the countries that have neither oil nor gas, the future is uncertain”

    He is Dead Wrong, look at Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden….. just to name a few.
    They are within the wealthiest countries…on this planet….much wealthier than most
    energy producing countries !
    It is not what you have in the ground that counts….but what you have in your brain !

    And wether oil is at US$ 10.-, 50.- or 100.- doesnt change anything…since everyone will pay the same price.
    The answer to wealth is what you do with the materials you have available, even if you import them. It is how you transform it…..AND ADD VALUE !!!!!!

    And without a top quality education, knowledge, skills and technology, you wont know how to….ADD VALUE !!!!!

    Look at your car manufacturers….as a simple example……NONE are Brazilians !!!!!!
    Even the money needed for investments……was not your money !
    Your own money was stolen….by the corrupted politicians and minority elite and parked
    mostly outside Brazil….for decades !

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