Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay consider Mercosur chair ‘vacant’ and call for urgent meeting

Mercosur’s disarray and fault lines were again exposed when Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay insisted that Venezuela’s self proclamation as president of the group was invalid, and also expressed disappointment with Uruguay for having ended its mandate last Saturday causing “great uncertainty”.

(Merco Press) – Brazil’s foreign minister Jose Serra sent a letter to his Mercosur country members peers underlining that the chair of the group remains “vacant” and accused Uruguay of causing “uncertainty” inside the group when last Saturday it declined to continue with the presidency.

Content of the letter sent to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela was revealed by O Estado de Sao Paulonewspaper saying that “the Brazilian government contends that the Mercosur rotating pro tempore presidency is vacant, from the moment that no consensus decision to that respect and its exercise exists”.

Serra also considers “unprecedented” Uruguay’s unilateral decision to desist from continuing as chair of the group and underlines this attitude has caused “uncertainty” in the functioning of Mercosur.

Likewise Brazil insists that Venezuela has not complied with its commitment to adopt all of Mercosur rules and regulations in four years time, a period which expires this month and was granted back in 2012, when the Caribbean country was accepted as the fifth full member of the group.

However Brazil reaffirms its commitment to preserve and strengthen Mercosur institutions. “The Brazilian government will make all necessary efforts to ensure dialogue…founded on decisions agreed by consensus”, said minister Serra.

This means that Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil with different emphasis, have rejected both Uruguay’s decision to decline continuing with the presidency once its mandate was up, as well as the announcement by Venezuela that it now holds the Mercosur presidency, which is in line with the alphabetical order which prevails when ir refers to the transfer.

Paraguay’s foreign minister Eladio Loizaga stated that for his country, Venezuela’s action is a “self proclamation” and therefore does not recognize the de facto presidency by the government of president Nicolas Maduro.

The Argentine foreign ministry position is in the same line, it does not admit the pro tempore presidency of Mercosur can be transferred without convening the Common Market Council, and has called on its fellow members to approve a “transfer mechanism”, and requested a meeting between all Mercosur coordinators sometime this week.

“In the 25 years of Mercosur in which there have been 47 pro tempore presidencies, and according to the rotation system practice, all transfers have complied with the Common Market Council formalities. Such practice, constant and peaceful, has consolidated as an international event of regional character accepted by all State parties, and consecrated as an obligation. Thus the transfer of the pro tempore presidency in the framework of the Common Market Council formalities constitutes a legal event of great political and institutional relevance which is part of Mercosur tradition and legal heritage”, pointed out the letter sent by Susana Malcorra to its peers.

In other words “the presidency of Mercosur can’t be adopted or exercised until the effective transfer by the Common Market Council under the format and formalities of the case”

Similarly Uruguay’s decision last Saturday to end its presidency mandate and the Venezuelan initiative of taking over the chair with no summit is “unprecedented” and could lead to a paralysis of Mercosur agenda of activities.

The Argentine position somehow vindicates Uruguay’s position which for weeks argued unsuccessfully that the Mercosur presidency transfer was not automatic, and regional decisions are in consensus and not unilateral. However Brazil and Paraguay’s point blank position to deny Venezuela the presidency aborted the Uruguayan strategy of strictly complying with the legalities of the case.

But at the end of the day Argentina does not accept Venezuela’s presidency and insists on convening a meeting of all Mercosur full members.

The goal of the conclave, the sources said, will be to follow the standard procedure set by the bloc’s protocol, in order “to preserve the legal order of the Mercosur.”

Sources close to Malcorra told the DyN private news agency that the meeting could take place during the Olympic Games in Brazil, due to start on August 5.