The Brazilian president and his South American colleagues meeting at the Mercosur summit called the new European Union immigration policies that permit the detention of undocumented workers for up to 18 months "xenophobic" and said the measure may damage economic ties between the two regions.
Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had tough criticism against the new EU rules on immigration calling them "hateful persecution. According to the Brazilian leader the problem of illegal immigration will not solved by prohibiting the poor from entering Europe.
"We keep on backing the civilian society's participation channels and favoring the free circulation of men and women while, on the other side of the ocean, a hateful persecution is being unleashed against Latin-Americans, often accompanied by racial overtones," said Lula in the speech that marked Brazil's presidency in Mercosur.
Celso Amorim, Brazil's Foreign Minister, announced that the Unasur countries will appeal to the UN against the EU decision.
"We will call attention to the theme during the UN's General Assembly," Amorim stated, "and maybe also at the Human Rights Council, We've been analyzing several action to take. The subject needs juridical analysis. What they use is the same term that was used against terrorist during the time of the IRA, when even children were detained."
"We have to defend our citizens who emigrated abroad because they weren't able, at that time, to find the conditions in our own countries to build a better life," said Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez during the summit in Tucuman, Argentina.
"It's xenophobic and discriminatory," he insisted. "Emigrating is not tourism" said Vazquez who talked of being the grandson of poor European immigrants. "It hurts us deeply that there is no respect for the human rights of Latin American immigrants, who had to leave and seek elsewhere what they don't have in their own lands, just like their grandparents did."
The strong attacks on the EU both for its migratory and farm subsidies policies centered the last of the two day Mercosur summit when the pro tempore chair, for the second half of 2008 was passed on to Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Argentina presided over the first half of the year.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the migratory measure could hurt trade and investment ties between Latin America and Europe. "We can't be silent about this," Chavez said at the summit. "We need to take a stand. So called civilized Europe is doing something barbarous."
The EU adopted the new immigration rules on June 18, and they are to take effect by 2010. The policy allows governments to detain illegal immigrants for up to 18 months and imposes a re-entry ban of up to five years. Thousands of Latin Americans migrate to Europe in search of job opportunities and the EU estimates eight to 12 million illegal immigrants live in Europe.
The Mercosur meeting also focused on the global food and energy crisis, noting that member nations have the potential to thrive, since its members include major energy and food exporters.
Brazil is the world's largest producer of sugar and of cane sugar ethanol, and second in soy. Argentina, also an important soy grower, is the world's No. 2 in corn and No. 4 in wheat.
"The situation of food and energy prices presents the region with an enormous opportunity if we can take advantage of it with solidarity and regional integration" said President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, which hosted the summit.