Brazilian Senate, Correa Back Venezuela as MERCOSUR President Pro Tempore

The Brazilian Senate’s Economic Affairs Commission issued a statement Friday endorsing Venezuela’s legal claim to the pro tempore presidency of the Market of the South (MERCOSUR). 

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The flags of MERCOSUR’s five member-states: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela. (Archive)
The flags of MERCOSUR’s five member-states: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela. (Archive)
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Caracas, August 8, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Brazilian Senate’s Economic Affairs Commission issued a statement Friday endorsing Venezuela’s legal claim to the pro tempore presidency of the Market of the South (MERCOSUR).  

“Venezuela is a member-state [of MERCOSUR] in full possession of its prerogatives, and is not subject to any type of sanctions within the bloc,” the communiqué read.

Last week, Venezuela formally assumed the presidency of the world’s fourth largest trading bloc following Uruguay’s conclusion of its six-month term on July 29.

Under MERCOSUR’s internal statutes, the presidency is to be rotated in alphabetical order among the five member-states every six months. 

Venezuela’s presidency has, however, been rejected by Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, who have cited Caracas’ delay in complying with several provisions of the Asuncion Treaty.

Venezuela was accepted as a full member of the regional body in 2012, and has until August 12 of this year to adopt a tariff requirement as well as a human rights standard.

In an informal meeting held last Thursday in Uruguay, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina debated strategies to deny Venezuela’s leadership of the bloc, ranging from appointing an interim “informal council of ambassadors” to handing the presidency directly to Buenos Aires.

The Brazilian Senate, for its part, blasted the proposals advanced by the interim Temer government and its allies in Buenos Aires and Asuncion as a violation of MERCOSUR’s charter.

“The allegation that Venezuela cannot assume the presidency of the bloc because it has not fulfilled all of MERCOSUR’s norms outlined in the Entry Protocol is entirely unprecedented,” the legislature declared.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa also weighed in on the heightening political standoff, criticizing the motion to deny Venezuela the presidency. 

“The rules of the game are clear, and the pro tempore presidency of MERCOSUR, without a doubt, is Venezuela’s, and any complaint Brazil might have about [Venezuela] not fulfilling the requirements, etc. has to be discussed within the bloc, but not by denying [Venezuela] the presidency,” he said during a televised interview on Sunday.

Uruguay’s center-left Broad Front government has likewise backed Venezuela’s claim to the MERCOSUR presidency, urging observance of the body’s norms.

Montevideo has previously torpedoed efforts led by the right-wing Horacio Cartes government in Paraguay to apply MERCOSUR’s democratic charter against Venezuela in order to expel the country from the bloc. 

MERCOSUR’s democratic charter has only ever been invoked in 2012 against Paraguay following what was widely decried as a parliamentary coup against then President Fernando Lugo.

Over the last six months, the regional trading bloc has moved decisively to the right in the wake of the inauguration of the newly elected Macri administration in Argentina as well as the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in what has been internationally condemned as a coup.