Former Brazil President Says Country Lost Its Leadership

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso Latin America has never been so divided, Mercosur is but an illusion of integration and Brazil has lost its leadership and convergence capacity according to former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso who ruled from January 1st 1995 to January 1, 2003.

In an interview with the newsletter from his political party PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy), Mr. Cardoso is asked about the new "self denominated left wing leaderships" of Latinamerica such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Argentina's Nestor Kirchner.

"Latinamerica has never been so divided as currently. It has fragmented. Brazil lost its leadership. This was what happened in Bolivia (which nationalized all the assets of Brazil's government owned oil corporation Petrobras and hiked the price of natural gas), and now with Paraguay which is claiming higher prices for the electricity it sells to Brazil," pointed out the former president.

"We've lost spaces; Brazil has lost the capacity to search for convergence in Latinamerica," he added.

"Brazilian foreign policy is mistaken or non existent," underlined Cardoso who was President Lula da Silva's predecessor in the job.

"We've allowed Latinamerica to disintegrate. Mercosur (originally made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and lately Venezuela) is today but an illusion, a caricature of integration. I think as Brazilians we've been quite mistaken," stressed Cardoso, who is now a visiting lecturer of several United States and French universities.

In related news it was announced in Buenos Aires that Mercosur and the European Union will resume free trade negotiations, possibly next September.

"The political will from both sides is there, and Europe has not lost interest in Mercosur," said the EU Deputy Trade Commissioner Karl Falkenberg during this week's visit to Buenos Aires.

Falkenberg held meetings with Foreign Affairs Secretary Jorge Taiana, Trade and International Economic Relations Secretary Alfredo Chiaradí­a and other top Argentine officials.

Chiaradí­a said that both sides had agreed that the best time to meet and discuss was next September, following the Doha Round multilateral trade negotiations.

"August is vacation time in Europe. If we mange to finally resume negotiations it will be September/October, when Uruguay will be holding the Mercosur six months chair", said Chiaradí­a who added that "we agreed it's going to be very hard to have a negotiations round before the WTO multilateral talks are over in July".




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