Brazil’s Senate ratified Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur on Tuesday, but approval from Paraguay remains a final hurdle to expanding Latin America’s largest trade bloc.
Miguel Carrizosa, head of the Paraguayan Senate, said Wednesday that Venezuela should be kept out of Mercosur “as long as President Hugo Chávez continues intervening in foreign affairs.” But Senator Emilio Camacho, who will take over the Senate presidency when Congress resumes session in March 2010, said Thursday morning that the debate could be reopened after the winter recess. Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, of the Patriotic Alliance for Change coalition that has the support of Camacho’s National Encuentro Party, is in favor of Venezuela joining Mercosur. He has previously removed the vote from the agenda of the opposition-controlled legislature.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has long advocated the acceptance of South America’s largest oil exporter into the bloc formed by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay in 1991. The Brazilian Senate took two years to approve Venezuela’s entry, which Argentina and Uruguay have already approved it. With Venezuela included, Mercosur would compromise 76 percent of South America’s GDP.