Santa Elena de Uairen, November 11th, 2014. (venezuelanalysis.com)- During a visit to Brasilia yesterday, Ernesto Samper, general secretary of Unasur (Union of South American Nations), bid the Venezuelan government settle internal matters and stimulate economic growth, in the interest of regional progress.
“The success of Venezuela must be a goal for all Unasur member countries,” said Samper, who served as the president of Colombia from 1994-98.
While paying a visit to the freshly re-elected Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, Samper insisted that Venezuela must seek a “social pact” between “all political and social sectors, plus peasants and all workers” in order to make “much needed” adjustments to the economy and strengthen public projects.
The secretary general said he was “strongly convinced” that President Maduro “would be willing to head that approach as long as the legitimacy of the government is respected, as well as its institutional prominence.”
Unasur “leaves its door open,” said Samper, to establish “wider ranging dialogue” between the Bolivarian government and the opposition.
Samper’s predecessor, Venezuelan Ali Rodriguez Araque, made a similar request for dialogue during the violent anti-government protests which polarized the Caribbean nation earlier this year and left 44 dead. At the time, a brief series of “Peace Talks” were facilitated between senior government officials and opposition leaders, though no formal agreements were reached.
Samper has renewed Rodriguez Araque’s call but with an emphasis on Venezuela’s high inflation rate and other economic woes, which president Nicolas Maduro has attributed to opposition business magnates’ strategic manipulation of commercial trade and import.
Last month, the former Colombian president also expressed concern over the assassination of Venezuelan socialist deputy Robert Serra, saying that the crime reflected “infiltration of Colombian paramilitarism” in Caracas.
81 representatives of the Parliament of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) also met yesterday during a summit in Uruguay. The five Mercosur member states are; Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The trade bloc’s legislative body, known as Parlasur, issued a formal congratulations to Venezuela for achieving a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as of last month.
Parlasur president and Uruguayan deputy Ruben Martinez Huelmo highlighted Venezuela’s strong democratic foundations and told reporters that “since the arrival of president [Hugo] Chavez and now with the continued leadership of [Nicolas] Maduro, Venezuela has been the protagonist of unity between Latin American peoples.”
A proposal presented in part by the Venezuelan delegation was ratified during yesterday’s summit, declaring the Mercosur territories “a peace zone.”
Venezuelan legislator and president of the Security and Defense Commission of Parlasur, Fernando Soto Rojas, expressed the significance of the declaration.
“The unity of peace will make us stronger in facing the hegemonic policies of imperialism which wish to divide us in order to intervene in internal affairs of state,” said Soto Rojas.
The newly approved treaty outlaws nuclear weapons and reiterates bonds of trust and solidarity between member nations, with the additional inclusion of associate countries Chile and Bolivia.
Colombia, another bloc associate, said today it would temporarily suspend Mercosur visas to Venezuelan citizens. The visa permits foreign citizens of member and associate countries up to two years residence for work and study with little to no requirements. In a statement issued this morning, Bogota accused Venezuela of denying this right to many of its citizens, indicating that the temporary suspension is a reciprocative measure.
Although there has been a sharp increase of Venezuelans emigrating to Colombia in recent months, the number of Colombians residing legally in Venezuela has long exceeded six million, making up over a fifth of the population. For this reason, many Venezuelans share Colombian parentage, though the reverse is less common.
Still, the temporary suspension may impact Venezuelans planning extended visits to their neighboring country in the coming months.