Brazil’s Alleged Bribe Against Venezuela a “Misunderstanding”, says Uruguay

Uruguay’s Foreign Minister retracted initial statements alleging that Brazil’s government attempted to “buy” Uruguay’s vote against Venezuela’s pro-tempore Mercosur Presidency Thursday.

By Jeanette Charles

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Uruguayan national flag waves alongside Mercosur's  official flag. (MercoPress)
Uruguayan national flag waves alongside Mercosur's official flag. (MercoPress)
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Los Angeles, California,  August 19th 2016 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Novoa publicly accused his Brazilian counterpart Minister José Serra Tuesday of trying to bribe his government to prevent Venezuela from continuing with its Mercosur pro-tempore presidency. On Thursday, the South American nation clarified that the invitation to engage in cooperative trade programs was indeed not a bribe and rather a “misunderstanding”.

This news comes weeks after, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay have publicly opposed Venezuela’s turn as the regional trade bloc’s president.

Minister Novoa initially reported in national media outlet El País that Serra allegedly tried to bribe Uruguay in exchange for refusing to transition the pro-temporary presidency to Venezuela. Additionally, El País reported that Serra announced Brazil planned to expand commercially into trade and other cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Iran.

According to Novoa’s first interpretation, Serra promised to include Uruguay in its trade proposals in exchange for blocking Venezuela’s rightful transition into the regional leadership position.

Two days after making his initial announcement, Novoa expressed, “There was a misunderstanding about Brazil’s proposal to promote joint trade activities between the two countries in third markets, and it has now become abundantly clear that [the proposal] has no connection to the transfer of Mercosur’s pro-tempore presidency [to Venezuela].”

Despite retracting his earlier comments, Novoa emphasized that,  “Venezuela is the next legitimate holder of the Mercosur presidency.” Novoa also said that Brazil’s position against Venezuela’s Mercosur pro-tempore presidency “bothered” him and Uruguayan President Tabare Vázquez.

Mercosur’s presidency rotates every six months alphabetically. Agentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela make up Mercosur’s full membership. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname are among the regional trade bloc’s associate members.

Mercosur’s focus emphasizes regional trade, cooperation and cultural exchanges between South American nations and has played a critical role in challenging economic impositions by the Global North.