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21/12/2013 | Paraguay set to approve Venezuela Mercosur membership this Wednesday, ending 18-month rift

Mercopress Staff

Paraguay is waiting for the formality of a Wednesday vote in the Lower House floor to acknowledge the controversial incorporation of Venezuela as full member of Mercosur, putting an end to an 18 months political and diplomatic rift in the block. The Deputies' Constitution Affairs and Foreign Affairs committees on Tuesday afternoon approved Venezuela's Mercosur incorporation protocol, which means all is ready for the full house expected positive vote.

 

 ”Tomorrow (Wednesday) we are taking the final vote in an ordinary session of the Lower House, where we have a majority to support and definitively approve the protocol“ said Deputy Ramon Romero Roa, chairman of the Constitution affairs committee.

The Paraguayan Senate approved the Venezuela incorporation protocol to Mercosur last week after having blocked it since 2006, when then president Hugo Chavez first requested to have his country become full member.

Venezuela is already full member of the group and currently holds the six-month chair which it will hand over in January during the next summit in Caracas. Venezuela's full membership was approved by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in June 2012 following the suspension of Paraguay from the group alleging a ”constitutional rupture“ because of the impeachment and removal from office of then president Fernando Lugo for incompetence.

Despite several attempts by former President Lugo to have the protocol approved, he never had the sufficient support in congress, and after his removal was replaced by Vice-president Federico Franco.

While the Mercosur suspension lasted, which ended when the new elected president Horacio Cartes took office last 15 August, the Paraguayan Senate did take a vote but to reject the incorporation. It was mostly in retaliation for Paraguay's suspension. The Lower House also voted to declare now president Nicolás Maduro persona non-grata. At the time as Venezuelan foreign affairs minister he was caught on video trying to convince the military command to impede the removal of Lugo.

The Paraguayan opposition has blasted the government of President Cartes for allegedly caving in to Brazil and Argentina which ignored the constitutional and legitimate process of removing Lugo, and not only that but they also sanctioned the country and while suspended, extended full membership to Venezuela despite the fact the Mercosur charter demands active attendance and participation of all members to decide any new incorporation which must be done by consensus.

This obviously did not happen because Paraguay was suspended.

However lawmaker Romero Roa said nobody can force decisions on Paraguay, and argued that ”President Cartes supported the political position and considered more prudent to recover relations with Mercosur members, particularly when crucial trade negotiations with the European Union are taking place”.

Wednesday's full house agenda includes a vote on the protocol and the persona non-grata condition extended to Maduro. The Foreign affairs committee has already revoked the Maduro issue

Mercopress (Uruguay)

 



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