Lula and Chavez in Montevideo The 1st Vice President of the Brazilian Senate, Marconi Perillo, after months of delay, put to a vote at the end of this Wednesday the draft legislative decree ratifying the Protocol of Accession of Venezuela to Mercosur. The matter should be vigorously debated in plenary, since there is no agreement on the subject.

    Most of the senators allied to the government advocate accepting Venezuela into the Mercosur arguing that it can strengthen the South American common market, particularly from an economic standpoint.

    The majority of senators of the opposition, however, are against it, saying that the system of government of the country, led by Hugo Chavez, is not democratic, which goes against one of the terms of accession to Mercosur.

    Senator Eduardo Azeredo from the opposition party PSDB, who chairs the Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense (CRE), mentioned his fear that the admission of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to Mercosur would bring more disintegration than integration among Latin American countries.

    He added that Mercosur has not evolved as expected and has had problems with its members, as the stance taken by Argentina, which cut off trade with Brazil in favor of China.

    Azeredo said the PSDB feels the obligation to express these concerns because contrary to what it should mean the entry of Venezuela to strengthen the conditions for negotiating with other economic blocs, it might result in the disintegration of the block itself.

    The CRE's chairman commented also a statement made yesterday by president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who told the Venezuelan president: "Finally, Chavez, Congress will approve the accession of Venezuela to Mercosur."

    To Azeredo, the president failed to mention the word  "I hope", because the Senate should take an independent decision to approve the admission of Venezuela, under certain conditions.

    Lula had announced Tuesday during the Mercosur summit in Montevideo that the Brazilian Senate should, finally, vote on the incorporation of Venezuela to the South American trade group as a full member.

     

    "The incorporation of Venezuela adds the concepts of scale and complementation to our block and hopefully, hopefully, this week the Brazilian Senate will approve the adhesion protocols", said Lula in the speech to his peers.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Venezuela first requested to become full member of Mercosur back in July 2006. Until then Venezuela was an associate member as Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

    Chavez request received a quick confirmation from the Legislative branches of Uruguay and Argentina, but is still pending the Ayes from Brazil and Paraguay.

    The Brazilian Senate has the vote on Venezuela in this week's agenda but it's not the first time the proposal has been frozen or suspended given the divided positions which the President Chavez triggers.

    Further on Lula said Mercosur is working for an integrated South America "and our integration stake seems today stronger than ever".

    But he also warned his peers that "to consolidate our unity we need to eliminate the current double tariff system", which is harmful for trade, investments and solid integration.

    Lula added that growth prospects for the region are "very good" and Mercosur "keeps its arms open and extended to all those looking for a better future".

    The Brazilian president promised that trade with junior partners Uruguay and Paraguay, (that have increasingly complained about senior members, Brazil and Argentina trade practices) will jump to US$ 500 million in 2010.

    Finally Lula stated that negotiations with the European Union for the signing of a trade agreement with Mercosur have become "a major target" and the whole block is committed to achieve a fair and balanced treaty next year.

    Bzz/MP

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