With Rafael Correa emerging victorious for a third and final term in Sunday’s presidential elections, the leader of the Alianza País party spoke to Argentine newspaper Página 12 about Ecuador becoming part of the Mercosur agreement, their relationship with Argentina, and same-sex marriage. During the interview, he also announced that his party obtained “97 or 98 seats” in the National Assembly, though the final results of the recount are yet to be announced by the National Electoral Council.
In the interview, Correa first discussed the strengthening of ties with Argentina by “further deepening the bilateral relationship” through trade, and agreed with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s condemnation of the “total surrender of our countries at the hands of transnational corporations”. Correa went on to say however that the relationship between the two countries is more than commercial because “with Argentina we have the same political vision”.
Throughout the interview Correa expressed his hope to join Mercosur, and when asked if the dollarisation of Ecuador would hinder the incorporation into the agreement, Correa agreed that it is “an obstacle for any integration process and trade liberalisation”. However, he insisted that “we are very interested in joining Mercosur… and they are very interested in integrating Ecuador”.
Speaking of the impending expiration of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication act (ATPDEA), Correa said, “Andean countries have a responsibility [to join these agreements] because they are the biggest producers of drugs! But the US say nothing of the responsibility they have for consuming them.” He went on to say that this agreement is “a new form of pressure for countries that do not behave according to the mentality of the US”, and that “if [the act is] extended, fine, if not, we will know how to succeed.”
As the interview progressed, Correa was questioned on the topic of same-sex marriage, in which he responded that, “the Constitution says that marriage is an institution between people of a different sex”. Correa said that although “we promote many rights and the non-discrimination of any person for any reason… the Constitution clearly says that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Finally, when asked if the continuation of his government would mean a less restrictive abortion law, Correa said that, “personally I will not promote any law that goes beyond the two cases that are already covered in the current legislation, in the case of a violation of a woman with intellectual disabilities and in the case of rape, when a child is violated.”
You can read the interview in full here.
Bolivia’s ‘process of change’: the balance sheet for 2012, and challenges to come
By Katu Arkonada | La Epoca* | December 18, 2012
2012 has been a year of transition for the process of change in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, notwithstanding the many events, problems and contradictions encountered by the executive branch during the last 12 months of its administration. A year of transition because we have left behind the 2010-2011 biennial of consolidation following the 64% victory of President Morales in the December 2009 election and are now entering a new biennial, 2013-2014, which will take us very rapidly to the presidential elections of December 2014.
By way of a balance sheet
2012 was without a doubt the year of the consulta [consultation] in the TIPNIS [Territorio Indígena and Parque Nacional Isiboro-Secure], the year when the government probably lost an international battle against a major marketing strategy designed in the offices of a certain opposition and some NGOs, but won the war for legitimacy in Bolivia. The result is overwhelming, leaving no room for doubt: of the 58 communities consulted (84% of them, since 11 refused to participate in the consulta), 55 (79%) approved the construction of the highway. This result dismantles the postmodern and Rousseauist analyses that knew little of the history and actors of the TIPNIS, classifying them as good savages living in the woods without needing anything more, and demonstrated to us that the majority of the communities of the TIPNIS want a greater state presence for access to health and education primarily. In any case the conflict has not ended and no doubt during the next two years the opposition will campaign against the construction of a highway in a country so colonized and plundered that it still has no road connecting two of its nine departments.
But 2012 has also been the year of the economy. Bolivia continued to grow at an annual rate of 5.2% (above the rate in Brazil, Mexico or Uruguay, to cite three examples), and the per capita share of GDP increased in 2012 to $2,238, double what it was in 2006 ($1,182). As for foreign trade, exports in the first quarter of 2012 exceeded the total of all exports in 2007: $5.068 billion compared with $4.822 billion, and the international reserves reached $14 billion — almost 50% of the Bolivian GDP, giving the country the highest level of reserves as a percentage of GDP in all of Latin America.
Similarly, public investment in 2012 will exceed $2 billion, as opposed to $879 million in 2006, and the public external debt totals $3.704 billion, down from $4.947 billion in 2005. By June 2012 three out of every 10 Bolivians were receiving conditional direct transfer payments (bonos), producing a redistribution of wealth that has reduced poverty by almost 12 percentage points in five years (48.5% in 2011) and extreme poverty by 13 percentage points during the same period (24.3%). Another factor in poverty reduction was the rise of the minimum wage in 2012 to 1,000 bolivianos [USD$1 = 7 BOB], compared with 815 BOBs in 2011 or the 440 BOB in 2005 when the MAS was first elected.
Another important factor to mention, when analyzing the past year, is the accomplishments in foreign policy, particularly the actions carried out in the negotiations with Chile for sovereign access to the sea, and the legal demand that Bolivia is going to make in The Hague , as well as the recent application to become a full member of Mercosur, the fifth largest economic entity in the world. And we should also note Bolivia’s leadership within ALBA  and the G77+China in such multilateral negotiations as the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 or the COP [Conference of Parties] on Climate Change. Never before has Bolivia had a sovereign foreign policy, changing the paradigm from neoliberal diplomatic conduct to one of Diplomacy of the Peoples.
Lastly, we cannot complete this brief end-of-year balance sheet without mentioning the recently uncovered case of corruption in the Ministry of Government [the Interior ministry], a ministry that correctly confronted a political mutiny in June and that has now done what a government leading a democratic and cultural revolution had to do, acting forcefully to detain all of those involved and pursuing the matter irrespective of who it might bring down. It is probable that we don’t (yet) know all of the ramifications of this case, but for the good of the process they must be brought to light and the harshest punishment meted out to anyone involved, and if they are a member of the government the penalty should be even greater, to demonstrate the latter’s integrity and coherency.
Challenges for 2013-2014
Notwithstanding the recent events in Venezuela, Chávez’s victory in winning election for six more years and the more than probable victory of Correa in Ecuador in February (almost certainly without the need for a second round), means that the process that is going forward in Bolivia will be menaced even more by those who feel threatened by the anti-imperialist and anticolonial policies being advanced by President Evo Morales. No doubt great efforts (and much money) will be spent in striking at one of the weakest links in the ALBA and the processes of change in the continent, and in attempting to consolidate an opposition alternative to the MAS government.
An initial step in the continued deepening of the process of change should be the victory in January of Jessica Jordán, the MAS candidate for Governor in Beni. A victory in this Amazon department on January 20 would be a definitive blow to the Media Luna and the hopes of repeating in Bolivia the Venezuelan scheme of the Mesa de Unidad. Obviously this will not be an easy victory in one of the most conservative regions of Bolivia, in which the hacendado power still has a great capacity for action and mobilization, but the very fact that first place is in dispute is already a victory in itself and a palpable demonstration that things are changing.
Not to be overlooked, as well, are the middle classes that the MSM  is attempting to woo with a moderate management-oriented discourse. However, in October 2012 it was revealed that the Municipality of La Paz was spending only 26% of its budget [dedicated to public investment – RF], far below the 50% average across the ministries. We can conclude that if the MSM is not capable of managing a city hall, it will have a hard time managing a state. But within that middle class layer, and in expectation of the results of the 2012 Population Census, we are going to have hundreds of thousands of new voters who in 2009 were too young to vote and now need to be won over with a discourse that must go beyond the proposals for change and be accompanied by a political program that involves them in the construction of this country’s politics.
Finally, the bases that have been built and consolidated in the process of change cannot be overlooked. It may be that those bases that are closest are not at risk, but it is necessary to strengthen them, to continue expanding the hard core, the popular and subaltern sectors that are the soul [ajayu] of this revolution, because without them the revolution would collapse piece by piece, but with them we will be able to begin thinking of the Patriotic Agenda 2025, converting the political and decolonizing revolution into a post-capitalist economic revolution.
The author, who describes himself here as a “militant in the process of change,” is a researcher at the Universidad de la Cordillera, a frequent contributor to the Bolivian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, and works with the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. He is of Basque origin.
 The lawfully mandated consulta (consultation) of the communities directly affected by the proposed highway project, which was the subject of much controversy and two recent marches by dissident indigenous activists, concluded its proceedings on December 7. The overwhelming majority of the communities that participated in the consulta approved the construction of the highway between Villa Tunari and San Ignacio de Moxos. See:
. For a discussion of the issues involved, see my translation of a book by Bolivian Vice-President Álvaro García Linera, Geopolitics of the Amazon, published in five parts at Life on the Left, and on several other sites. — RF
 The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America [Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América] is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
 In November several senior counsel in the Ministry were implicated in an attempt to extort money from a U.S. citizen, Jacob Ostreicher, who came to Bolivia four years ago and invested in rice production in Santa Cruz. He was indicted for money-laundering in June. The Bolivian suspects are alleged to have offered his release in return for his payment to them of $50,000. See Desbaratan red de corrupción y extorsión en la que operaban dos asesores del Ministerio de Gobierno, and Morales asegura que hay “infiltrados” que buscan desprestigiar al Gobierno.
 The four departments of the so-called Media Luna (literally, “half moon”) comprising the eastern portion of Bolivia have been centers of conservative resistance to the Morales government, their governors often collaborating in opposition to La Paz. In Venezuela the rightist opposition to Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution coalesced behind a single presidential candidate in the recent national election, when he was defeated by Chávez.
 MSM, the Movimiento Sin Miedo [Fearless Movement], a center-left opposition party that currently controls the mayoralty in La Paz.
 2025 will be the bicentennial of Bolivia’s independence from Spain.
- Bolivia signs Mercosur incorporation protocol and becomes sixth member (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Bolivia nationalises electric utilities (nzherald.co.nz)
Bolivian president Evo Morales subscribed on Friday the Mercosur incorporation protocol which makes it the sixth member of the regional group. The event took place in Brasilia during the Mercosur summit hosted by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.
At the summit which also included associate members, President Morales and his peers signed the document. “With the signing of the protocol, Bolivia becomes the six member state of Mercosur”, announced officially the spokesperson for the Brazilian Executive.
“The protocol defines the different stages and commitment to reach the full incorporation of Bolivia to Mercosur”, added the spokesperson. “The full membership will take place once the Legislatives of the other full members ratify the protocol”.
“Evo, you are most welcome” said president Rousseff before the signing of the document. “This has been good news for the summit. We have skipped years of negotiations with the Bolivian decision to sign the adhesion protocol”.
At the summit President Rousseff as chair of Mercosur stamped her signature to the definitive incorporation of Venezuela as full member which was decided in an extraordinary meeting last July in Rio do Janeiro.
At the summit also, Brazil handed the rotating chair of Mercosur to Uruguay in the hands of President Jose Mujica, for the next six months, thus skipping Paraguay, temporarily suspended and which according to alphabetical order was to have such responsibility.
- Brazil calls for better integrated trading bloc (vancouverdesi.com)
Mérida – Yesterday President Hugo Chavez met with over a thousand workers in the large hall of the Caruachi Hydroelectric Complex of the Guyana Venezuela Corporation (CVG) to sign an agreement to begin the organisation and construction of the Orinoco Axis of Development.
Representatives of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA and CVG signed the agreement to collaborate in the creation of this “axis of development” in the Orinoco area, one of several such axes in specific regions that Chavez has proposed in his plan for 2013-2019. CVG is a mostly worker co-managed entity that extracts and processes primary material such as iron, gold, and bauxite.
Chavez said the strategy was to unite the north and south of the Orinoco zone. That is, to unite the Orinoco Oil Belt to the north of the river, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves, with the Industrial Mining Belt to the south of it. However, Chavez said the area also includes 600,000 hectares where agricultural production can be fostered. The axis will have an area of around 100,000 square kilometres in total.
The union between PDVSA and CVG is the result of years of discussion, Chavez said, “and is related to large historical objectives which we have proposed for ourselves… and the need for planning… in the long and medium term”.
CVG president Rafael Gil Barrios explained to the press today that the PDVSA-CVG agreement is already being concretised, including the creation of mixed companies (smaller companies run by the two larger main ones) such as Petro San Feliz. CVG will own 10% of this company, of the 70% of stocks that PDVSA already owns.
Steel projects, Workers and Mercosur
Workers from CVG, from the Sidor steel plant, and from PDVSA attended the meeting with Chavez, during which he also approved US$ 324 million for Sidor, to go towards increasing its production. That includes $18.5 million to update rust removal technology and $250 million for a project to install machinery for round billet mould assembly. The steel tubes produced from this machinery will benefit the petroleum industry in the Orinoco oil belt. The financing comes from agreements with China.
Chavez asked workers to audit the projects and to protest when work is taking too long or is halted. His comment comes as some cement workers have voted to go on national strike “against the policy of the Chavez government of freezing collective contracts in order to please the capitalists”, as stated by the Revolutionary Socialist Current two days ago.
“Just like when you all protest, and rightly so, when for example, the dividends don’t arrive… so I approved Bs 600 million recently for such loans,” Chavez said, adding that, “Workers have the right to protest in a thousand ways, but not damaging the production of … the [state owned] companies of Guayana… there are mafias who buy off the workers…and their managers… they have to be denounced.”
The president also emphasised the importance of the axis and its region in Venezuela’s incorporation into the trade bloc, Mercosur, formalised in July.
“We have to start to construct the railroad from the Caribbean (Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela) to Manaos (in the Brazilian Amazon)… this is vital and Guayana’s role in that is vital,” Chavez said and also announced that he was forming a new presidential commission to deal with Venezuela’s integration into Mercosur. The commission will consist of mostly selected members of his cabinet and is presided by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Mercosur executive secretary Isabel Delgado.
Nicolas Maduro, added, “This large economic force, this mining, industrial, petroleum, agricultural force is our country’s direct relationship with Mercosur… the Mercosur commission starts today (Monday) and they have oriented us towards forming a Business Council and a Worker Council of Mercosur”.
“There’s a lot of motivation to increase the productive and exporting potential Venezuela has in the large market of South America, which is Mercosur,” Maduro concluded.
The government re-nationalised the Sidor steel plant in 2008, and CVG workers in July 2009 proposed a model of production and workers control which Chavez supported, called Plan Socialist Guayana 2009-2019. The plan involved transforming the state owned CVG and its companies into socialist companies, and in 2010 CVG workers elected the directors of the respective companies that make up the corporation for the first time.
Ramirez confirmed as president of PDVSA and increased oil production
Today Chavez also announced that the president of PDVSA, as well as the minister of petroleum and mining, Rafael Ramirez, will remain president of PDVSA for the upcoming management period of 2013-2019.
Chavez made the announcement during a meeting in Monagas state with the workers of the Orinoco Oil Belt there. He also outlined plans to increase petroleum production in Venezuela generally to 6 million barrels a day by 2019, said that the government is currently “investing around 5 billion dollars in the belt” and that over the next 6 years the government aims to invest $100 billion.
Ramirez informed that the Venezuelan state has received US$ 383,223 million through petroleum taxes over the last thirteen years. This income was a result of fiscal reforms the government implemented from 2002 in the petroleum sectors. Before those reforms, transnationals in the petroleum sector only payed taxes of 1%, a figure the government increased to 33% in 2002.
Chavez said this money has been invested in education, health, agriculture, and housing.
- China soon to be Venezuela’s No. 1 trade partner due to strategic alliance (thesantosrepublic.com)
- Chavez after an energy alliance with Argentina and Brazil in the framework of Mercosur (en.mercopress.com)
- With Venezuela Mercosur has become “a new pole of world power” (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Venezuela’s entry enhances Mercosur (english.pravda.ru)
- Chavez says Venezuela’s incorporation into Mercosur will generate over 240,000 jobs (english.pravda.ru)
- Venezuela formally joins Mercosur trading bloc (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Argentine President Cristina Fernández said on Tuesday during a press conference held at the Mercosur extraordinary summit in Brasilia, that Venezuela’s entry to the bloc “strengthens the entire region” and creates a “new pole of power” at world level.
Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay made the incorporation act official at the special summit held in Brasilia with the attendance of the four leaders: Cristina Fernandez, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Uruguay’s Jose Mujica and the host Dilma Rousseff.
The event started Tuesday morning in the Planalto Palace when the four presidents met and later had the family picture taken. This was followed by a press conference and a special lunch at the Brazilian Itamaraty chancery in honour of the presidents.
“This is a historic day that fills me with joy”, said the Argentine president adding that the inclusion of Venezuela “calls for the creation of the institutions for this new pole of power”.
Venezuela incorporation to Mercosur was decided at the mid year presidential summit in Mendoza, Argentina at the end of June when the other full member Paraguay was suspended because of the removal of Fernando Lugo from the presidency.
Following the three presidents agreed the inclusion of Venezuela as full member of the block, which had been pending because of the refusal of the Paraguayan Senate to have Hugo Chavez in the trade block. Chavez’ original request dates from 2006.
Venezuela’s swearing into the bloc makes it the first country to join the bloc since it was founded in 1991.
“I still remember the small minded sponsors who were against the inclusion of Venezuela”, and who argued that “it was not convenient to be part of Mercosur because Brazil would gobble us” given its size.
Cristina Fernandez then turned to Chavez and said that “your solitude was not personal or government solitude, it was political and cultural solitude from our region in South America” and immediately recalled that “Nestor Kirchner and Lula da Silva always dreamt of this happening”.
The Argentine president then criticized “developed countries” blaming them for the current global “financial insecurity”.
“I’ve read that the idea of capping the price of our commodities has resurfaced as if we were endangering global food security. Let us tell them to be at ease that we can provide food security because the world is in this condition not because of the soybeans, or because of wheat or corn, but rather because of the financial insecurity which those same developed countries generated”, said Cristina Fernandez.
She added that “we are going to produce more and better food, but what we are demanding is financial security, an end to fiscal havens, and end to double speech”.
With Venezuela Mercosur “closes the equation” in the regional block “because it is energy, food, minerals, knowledge, aggregate value, industrialization, know-how that we are now going to share”.
President Chavez said that with the incorporation of Venezuela “the new period of the accelerated history we are building has been opened”, which will mean “historic changes” for the region.
“We are where we should have always been, Venezuela’s inclusion in Mercosur was long overdue, but everything that is to happen has its moment”, said Chavez.
“We have come to Mercosur with all our wishes for a full integration” and to make this block “a mechanism of integration which goes beyond trade, which means social integration”, he added.
Finally Chavez said that Mercosur must be seen as “the largest locomotive to preserve our independence and to guarantee our integral development”.
“As of today Venezuela belongs to one of the most powerful blocks in the world which concentrates 300 million people and a GDP of over 3tn dollars,” rich in resources, energy and know-how.
Venezuela has become a full member of the Mercosur regional trading bloc following a six-year-long delay.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is now set to take part in a ceremony in Brasilia, which celebrates Caracas’ membership in the South American trade bloc.
The visit to Brasilia will be Chavez’s first official trip abroad in a year after his being diagnosed with cancer in June 2011 and his treatment process in Cuba.
Mercosur is an economic union and political agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay founded in 1991. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency.
The bloc’s combined market encompasses more than 250 million people and accounts for more than three-quarters of the economic activity on the continent, or a combined GDP of USD 1.1 trillion.
Although the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay had approved Venezuela’s admission into the bloc in 2006, the accession was delayed pending ratification by the Paraguayan congress.
This is while Paraguay has recently been suspended from the group over the controversial dismissal of President Fernando Lugo.
The lower house of the Paraguayan congress impeached Lugo on June 21. The senate opened his trial a day later and quickly reached a guilty verdict, ousting the president.
Mercosur’s leaders did not impose economic sanctions on Paraguay, but banned Paraguayan officials from participating in the bloc’s meetings.
Paraguay’s suspension created an opportunity for Venezuela to be incorporated into the bloc since the opposition in the Paraguayan congress was the only obstacle to Caracas’ membership.
- Venezuela to join Mercosur on July 31 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The South American trade bloc Mercosur has announced that Venezuela will become a full member of the group on July 31.
On Friday, at a summit meeting in Mendoza, a small city in western Argentina, Mercosur leaders also agreed to extend Paraguay’s suspension over the dismissal of President Fernando Lugo until constitutional order is restored, Reuters reported.
The lower house of the Paraguayan Congress impeached Lugo on June 21, and the Senate opened his trial on June 22 and quickly reached a guilty verdict, ousting Lugo.
Mercosur leaders did not impose economic sanctions on Paraguay but banned Paraguayan officials from participating in Mercosur meetings.
Paraguay’s suspension created an opportunity for Venezuela to be incorporated into the bloc since opposition in the Paraguayan Congress was the only obstruction after a six-year wait.
Although the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay approved Venezuela’s admission into the bloc in 2006, its status remained in limbo as the agreement depended on ratification by the Paraguayan Congress.
“We’re calling on the entire region to recognize the need to expand our union so we can confront this crisis… caused by rich countries, but which will affect our economies regardless,” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said at the summit.
“(We need to) develop the incredible potential that South America has in terms of food and agriculture, minerals, energy, and science and technology,” she added.
Mercosur is an economic union and political agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay founded in 1991. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency.
The bloc’s combined market encompasses more than 250 million people and accounts for more than three-quarters of the economic activity on the continent, or a combined GDP of $1.1 trillion.
- Mercosur suspends Paraguay from trade bloc over Lugo ouster (alethonews.wordpress.com)
South American foreign ministers have suspended Paraguay from the regional trade bloc, Mercosur, over last week’s ouster of former President Fernando Lugo.
However, the bloc stopped short of imposing economic sanctions on Paraguay, which is one of the four founding members of the Mercosur bloc, along with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Paraguay was banned from this week’s summit held in Mendoza, Argenita, as the regional leaders considered the removal of the country’s first left-wing president as a parliamentary coup.
“Through a unanimous decision by Mercosur’s permanent and associate members, it has been decided– because of the events that occurred last Friday– to suspend Paraguay’s participation in this presidential summit,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said on Friday at a news conference.
Last week Paraguay’s Senate removed Lugo from office after a five-hour impeachment trial. He was accused of mishandling an armed clash over a land dispute in which seven police officers and ten landless farmers were killed on June 15.
Lugo was immediately replaced by his pro-US deputy, Federico Franco. The move has prompted harsh criticism inside the country and among its neighboring nations.
South American officials said that the suspension of Paraguay will stand until “democracy is fully restored” to the country.
Bolivian President Evo Morales voiced his concerns over what happened in Paraguay, saying that his country will not “recognize a dictatorship in paraguay.”
Several South American nations have recalled their ambassadors from Paraguay’s capital Asuncion, permanently or for consultation, in a bid to show their opposition to the dismissal of a democratically elected president.
- Paraguay faces expulsion from Mercosur/Unasur, economic isolation (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says China is interested in sealing a free trade agreement with the South American regional trade bloc Mercosur.
“We share ample common interests and we have great potential,” Wen said in Buenos Aires on Monday, while standing next to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in a videoconference that included the presidents of Brazil and Uruguay, AP reported.
In the videoconference, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said strengthening relations between Chian and Mercosur could become a “strategy to keep the crisis contagion from reaching our markets and provoking unwanted consequences in employment and income that would hurt economic growth.”
In a meeting with the Argentine president, the Chinese premier signed deals on nuclear energy and the export of Argentine agricultural products.
Fernandez called the expansion of ties between China and Mercosur “a historic opportunity to add value to our raw materials and create jobs.”
The Mercosur bloc also includes Paraguay, which does not have diplomatic relations with Beijing because it recognizes Taiwan, which China, Mercosur’s second-biggest trade partner, considers a renegade province.
- Paraguay faces expulsion from Mercosur/Unasur, economic isolation (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Mercosur Bars New Paraguay Leader from Summit (voanews.com)
President Cristina Fernández assured on Friday night that “Argentina does not condone the coup in Paraguay” and anticipated that “appropriate measures” will be taken at next week’s Mercosur Summit, scheduled to take place in Mendoza.
The Argentine leader also said that Unasur expressed a unanimous voice regarding the impeachment process that removed President Fernando Lugo from office on Friday.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff also suggested that Paraguay could be expulsed from Mercosur and Unasur since the two organizations have clauses in support of democratic rules and governance.
Speaking at a press conference before addressing the UN Rio+20 summit Rousseff said there “are anticipated sanctions for those who do not comply with the principles that characterize democracy” but admitted Paraguay was going through “a complicated situation”.
When a country violates the democratic clause the sanction is “non participation in multilateral bodies; that is expulsion from Mercosur and Unasur”.
Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa anticipated that his government “will not recognize any other Paraguayan president but Fernando Lugo”, and independently of the decisions from Lugo and Unasur “Ecuador will not recognize the new president”, Federico Franco, named by Congress.
“We are not going to remain idle to the advance of these type of issues in our region because what happened in Paraguay is absolutely illegitimate” and recalled the democratic clause from Unasur which enables the regional block to act when against the rupture of democratic order in any member country.
“What has happened in Paraguay is a big farce disguised as legality but it is totally unacceptable that the decision to oust a president was taken in 24 hours ignoring his right to due process and defence”, added Correa.
Venezuelan Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro said in Asuncion that a meeting of Unasur heads of state will take place soon to decide on the Paraguayan case, which he described as “absolutely shameful”.
Maduro is in Paraguay as one of the Unasur Foreign ministers’ delegation sent to try and mediate in the political crisis.
Unasur ministers cautioned that if due process was not respected “this would mean the rupture of cooperation of Unasur, Mercosur and Celac with Paraguay” which involves among other things cutting of subsidized fuel, limiting communications and commercial dealings.
Unasur Secretary General Ali Rodriguez said in a release that country members “will assess how it can be possible to continue cooperation with Paraguay in the framework of South American integration”, if the impeachment process ignores due process and the right to defence.
“The foreign ministers mission reaffirms its total solidarity with the Paraguayan people and its support for constitutional president Fernando Lugo”, underlined Ali Rodrigues.
Venezuela’s Maduro said that “we came (to Paraguay) with the best of willingness and open minds to help but disappointingly we were not listened by those making the decision”.
“There is an evident breaking down of constitutional order” pointed out Maduro who added the delegation arrived in Asunción “to support Paraguayan democracy, the Paraguayan people and the constitutional president Fernando Lugo”.
Maduro claims lawmakers listened in “silence and with indifference” to the Unasur request for respect to due process in the impeachment of the head of state.
- Rousseff suggests expulsion of Paraguay’s Mercosur and Unasur (ireport.cnn.com)
- Paraguayan Senate impeaches leftist president, causing international uproar (weeklyintercept.blogspot.com)