Brazil Won’t Consider Venezuela’s Admission to Mercosur Before 2008

Arlindo Chinaglia Venezuela will not be considered by Brazil's Congress for a vote of incorporation as a full member of Mercosur before 2008, House of Representative's Speaker Arlindo Chinaglia told the local press on Monday in Brazilian capital BrasÀ­lia.

Chinaglia said the Lower House chamber's schedule is filled with other matters until the end of 2007, which prevents the federal deputies from voting on the issue. The upcoming agenda includes the 2008 federal government budget, which the House must analyze, as well as voting on presidential injunctions.

Chinaglia indicated that the injunctions presented by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which need to be approved by Congress to remain valid, are "part of the chamber's reality," and at least three of them are regarded as "priorities".

"Therefore I do not believe that Venezuela's admission will be voted this year." he underlined.

Brazil's Congress has been addressing the Venezuela issue since March with the Senate the most opposed to the proposal. Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez called Brazilian senators "Washington puppets" and "oligarchs," and since he never apologized a considerable number of them are contrary to Venezuela's Mercosur admission in spite of strong lobbying from the business community.

Last week, the Lower House Constitution and Justice Committee approved Venezuela's Mercosur incorporation documents, a clear signal that the proposal may be approved by the house's plenary assembly. But from the Lower House the initiative will then be considered by the Senate.

Venezuela's incorporation to Mercosur so far has been approved by the Argentine and Uruguayan legislative branches. The Chavez administration request besides Brazil also faces stiff opposition in Paraguay.

Furthermore there's speculation that the Brazilian congress decided to freeze the situation until after next Sunday's referendum in Venezuela, which includes sweeping constitutional reforms questioned by the country's opposition as "authoritarian," undemocratic and with the purpose of eliminating private property.

The Mercosur charter has a "democratic" clause which condemns some of the reforms in the new Venezuelan constitution such as indefinite presidential re-election and strong restrictions to political activity and press reporting.



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