Thursday, Dec. 10
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Leaders of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) countries meeting in Montevideo refused to recognize Porfirio Lobo’s victory in the Nov. 29 Honduran election. As a result, Venezuela’s application to join the bloc has been put on hold.
Calling the Honduran elections “a hard blow against democracy,” the leaders, according to AP, demanded the reinstatement of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
In a joint statement, Mercosur leaders Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Fernandez (Argentina), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) and Tabare Vazquez (Uruguay), together with Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), expressed, according to El Mercurio, their “strongest condemnation of the coup in Honduras” and described what they called “the serious violations of the human rights and freedoms of the Honduran people” as “unacceptable.”
This, noted EFE, was Mercosur’s second statement on Honduras since the crisis erupted on June 28. The first, released after the organization’s July summit in Asuncion, Paraguay, called for Zelaya’s reinstatement and warned that Mercosur would not recognize elections called by Roberto Micheletti’s de facto government.
Unlike the former, though, this statement was not signed by Mercosur associate members Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia, some of which have differing views on the situation in Honduras. In fact, neither Chilean President Michelle Bachelet nor Bolivian President Evo Morales were present at the summit.
Although Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos argued, according to Reuters, that “the Honduran people cannot be left isolated for ever,” Chavez was adamant that Venezuela would not recognize the new government.
When the time came to discuss Mercosur’s internal affairs, the leaders, according to EFE, admitted that little progress had been made since the last meeting on achieving the bloc’s fundamental goals, such as drafting a common customs code and deciding how customs revenues will be distributed. No decision was made on Venezuela’s application to become a full member, since its admission requires ratification by the Brazil and Paraguayan legislatures.
Also left for another day was the question of each country’s representation in the Mercosur Parliament after 2011, when representatives will be elected by popular vote.
One point that all member countries could agreed upon was that next year they would resume talks on a political and trade association agreement with the European Union. “We are heading toward an agreement,” said Fernandez, according to Reuters, referring to the stalled talks that began a decade ago.