Paraguay’s Senate is expected next week to vote in favor of Venezuela’s bid to join Mercosur—Mercado Común del Sur or Southern Common Market. The anticipated approval will be Venezuela’s final hurdle before assuming full membership of Latin America’s preeminent trade bloc, completing the process it began in 2006.
Mercosur nations are divided into three categories: full members, associate members and observers. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay are the founding signatories and full member nations; Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru comprise the associate members, while Mexico is the only observer. The parliaments of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have already ratified Venezuela’s bid. The Paraguayan Senate needs 23 of 45 senators to support the measure, and observers predict that the simple majority will favor it despite the Senate being controlled by the opposition Colorado party.
Venezuela’s robust supply of oil and energy commodities is attractive to Paraguay, although Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ indifference to Mercosur’s “democratic clause” is a point of concern to Paraguayan senators who oppose the bid. It has also been reported that President Lugo’s administration, which strongly favors Venezuela’s accession, has promised high-level political appointments to undecided senators—particularly those in the UNACE party, a former faction of Colorado.