Caracas, December, 18, 2007, (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attended the 34th Summit of Heads of States of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), in Montevideo today to support his country's bid for full membership of the regional trading block. The presidents of all four member nations expressed their full support for Venezuela's entry.
"We are convinced the destiny of South America depends on the destiny of Mercosur," Chavez told reporters as he arrived at the Carrasco international airport in Uruguay. With this view, Venezuela would continue waiting with patience for its incorporation into Mercosur, he said.
Historically, Venezuela was exploited and transnational companies never paid any taxes, this is why we have decided to "look to the South" and "embrace with pride that we are with South America," Chavez said, stressing the importance of economic integration.
Speaking later at the summit Chavez also confirmed that Venezuela was adapting and preparing itself for full integration into the regional trading bloc by withdrawing from the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and the Group of Three (G-3) and taking measures to increase bilateral political and economic relations with Mercosur member nations.
Chavez added that one way that Venezuela hopes to help the process of integration through Mercosur is to increase imports from member nations. By the end 2007, Venezuela will have received imports to the value of $55-60 billion, "although we don't have anything against this, we want them to come primarily from the South," Chavez said.
Venezuela's bid for full membership was supported by the presidents of Mercosur member nations Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; Brasil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte, and Tabaré Vázquez president of Uruguay today at the summit.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro welcomed the public support for Venezuela's bid for full membership saying "this document means a great deal to us."
Although Venezuela's full integration has so far been endorsed by the Argentine and Uruguayan parliaments, in Brazil, opposition legislators are resisting the incorporation of Venezuela into Mercosur and approval from the Paraguayan parliament is still pending.
Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who received the rotating Mercosur presidency from Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez today, urged the rapid incorporation of Venezuela into Mercosur, saying "I hope that during this presidency we can incorporate definitively the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
"The presence of Venezuela in Mercosur will permit us to configure the closure of the energy equation that is key for the region and the world in the short and medium term," she added.
Fernandez also stressed the importance of advancing region-wide infrastructure projects so that societies could see concretely "the advantages of integration and cooperation among countries."
The summit also rejected external interference in Latin American affairs and addressed issues of "economic asymmetry" among member nations, with Paraguay and Uruguay asking for permission to sign external trade agreements without losing full membership status, as well as focusing on the elimination of double taxation through negotiating an external tariff agreement.
Brazilian President Luis Ignacio "Lula" Da Silva warned that there were "strong interests" both internally and externally to Latin America that did not want to see the process of integration succeed. He called for the resolution of the problems of "asymmetry" denounced by Uruguay and Paraguay and for member nations to work together to defeat technical and economic difficulties to advance integration.
Mercosur, founded in 1991, has four full members; Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and five associated members; Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezula.
In addition to the presidents of the member nations of Mercosur, as well as President Chavez, the President of Chile, Michele Bachelet and President of Bolivia, Evo Morales also participated in the summit. The presidents of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe; Ecuador, Rafael Correa and Peru, Alan Garcia were invited, but did not attend.
Chavez also participated in the parallel Summit of the Peoples of the South, where he awarded a Francisco de Miranda medal to progressive writer and poet Mario Benedetti.
More than 115 social organizations and trade unions participated in the Summit of the Peoples of the South where they discussed themes such as human rights and demilitarization, integration and inclusion and alternatives to and resistance to neo-liberalism.