The Brazilian Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee began this week to consider the official documents of Venezuela's incorporation to Mercosur, a long delayed process with still an arduous path ahead before its final approval and which has irritated relations between Caracas and BrasÀlia.
The committee announced it would be one of the first issues in the agenda to be considered.
However even if the Committee votes positively the Incorporation Protocol, the document still has ahead a full reading in the 513 member Lower House and later in the 81 member Senate.
According to Mercosur rules the Protocol to become effective must be ratified by the Legislative of all four full members. Argentina and Uruguay have completed that step but Congress members from Brazil and Paraguay still have to take a vote.
In the event of a negative vote in any of the four congresses Venezuela could still be accepted into Mercosur, but with no voting power, according to Brazilian Senator Sergio Zambiasi.
In a recent meeting of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the capital city of Amazonas state, Manaus, both leaders ratified their administrations interest in Venezuela's incorporation to Mercosur and the Brazilian Executive commitment to the legislative approval.
The Manaus display of political willingness seems to have left behind several incidents involving the Venezuelan president and Brazilian senators, which questioned Mercosur leading economy interest in incorporating a fifth full member to the South American customs union.
President Chavez went furious when the Brazilian Senate condemned the Venezuelan government decision not to renew the license of the country's longest established and main television station which was accused of promoting opposition to the Venezuelan president.
Chavez called Brazilian Senators "Washington parrots" and "oligarchs" only interested in defending their interests and pockets.
Lula was forced to intervene in the exchange of recriminations demanding respect for the elected Senators and at the time President Chavez announced a deadline for Venezuela's incorporation to Mercosur, that expire at the end of the year. "We can live without Mercosur…", he said.
Time however and prudent silence seems to have been the way out to the incident, but a long legislative discussion still lies ahead.
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