Paraguay announced officially that it will not be attending the Common Market Council of Mercosur in Montevideo next 30 July, if the agenda includes the transfer of the group's presidency to Venezuela.
“Paraguay is considering if we are to be coherent with our position, we will not participate in a meeting with the purpose to transfer the pro tempore presidency to Venezuela. Paraguay is still awaiting a reply from the presentation made for the Mercosur meeting with respect of Venezuela and the Ushuaia Protocol”, said foreign minister Eladio Loizaga.
The minister was asked specifically about the Common Market Council meeting scheduled for Saturday 30 July to again address the Venezuela issue. The CMC brings together all the foreign ministers from member countries, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, and is the main decision making body behind the presidential summit.
Uruguay which currently holds the Mercosur chair wants to comply with the group's rules and transfer the presidency for this half year to Venezuela (alphabetical order). Argentina supports the idea but has left Uruguay to play the game, against Paraguay and Brazil which loathe “ideological” Mercosur and the last mentor of that emphasis, Venezuela and president Nicolas Maduro. (The Kirchners are out in Argentina and so is the Lula da Silva-Rousseff tandem in Brazil).
Under those circumstances Brazil and Paraguay will not accept a Venezuela presidency of Mercosur, and prefer Uruguay to continue with the chair given the crucial trade negotiations with the European Union.
But the Uruguayan ruling coalition of president Tabare Vazquez is divided: the more orthodox and formal establishment describes Venezuela as an “authoritarian democracy”, but the grassroots with majority in the legislative are clearly aligned with Venezuela and its struggle against “the bourgeois conspirators and the evil empire of the US”.
To that respect Loizaga said that taking into account the political situation of Venezuela, “it is hard to see Venezuela taking the rotating chair. One of Mercosur principles is respect for human rights, rule of the law, freedom of expression and of movement and a free media”.
Besides “all Mercosur members have an open economy, believe in free markets and in Venezuela ”we can only see an economy under state control and managed by the military“.
Loizaga added that Paraguay insists in convening a meeting of Mercosur foreign ministers to consider the situation of Venezuela in the framework of the Ushuaia Protocol on democratic commitment and the Asunción Protocol on human rights.
The minister went further and argued that Venezuela at the end of the day is not a full member of Mercosur, a situation shared by Brazil, which demands that Venezuela must comply with several requirements referred to human rights, trade and the economy, and for which the deadline is next 12 August.
Loizaga insisted that to enjoy full membership of Mercosur, all requirements must be complied, and this is not the case.
”There has been a chain of errors which were accepted when Venezuela asked to be incorporated to the group (2012) , and the country was given the opportunity to have a voice but not a full vote. This was a political mistake, if we had waited to the whole process, normal to any international organization or any economic or trade grouping this would not have happened. In those cases no country participates until it has complied fully with all the demanded requirements for a full participation“.
Loizaga also mentioned the ”financial and legal pressure“ put on by Venezuela against Paraguay which under the previous government of left wing bishop Fernando Lugo benefited from oil supplied on long term credit conditions. Following the Mercosur dispute, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is demanding Paraguay's state oil company Petropar to pay the rescheduled oil bill which amounts to several hundred million dollars.
”The PDVSA (Venezuela's oil company) demand is being dealt under private law in a French court”, revealed Loizaga who nevertheless declined to mention the sum involved.