July 1, 2003


 The Chavez Government suffered another quiet loss at the recent summit in Colombia. Chavez has been speaking against both the Andean Pact (CAN) and the ALCA pact proposed by the US. He has however been speaking in favor of Venezuela joining MERCOSUR. The reasons are simply political. Chavez has argued that Venezuela is not ready to compete within ALCA. True. But Venezuela is not ready to compete against Brazil or Argentina either, so the argument is moot. The explanation is simply that while the US is the promoter of ALCA and the main trading partners in the Andean Pact are the pro-US Presidents of Colombia and Peru, MERCOSUR leading countries are Brazil and Argentina whose Presidents’ are more in tune with Chavez’ left-wing policies.


What was interesting at the Colombian summit was that Brazilian President Lula da Silva, suggested that Andean Pact countries together join MERCOSUR as a step prior to having the whole community join ALCA. Thus, in one stroke Chavez’ initiatives were dealt a severe blow. In fact, the final declaration called for the CAN countries to join MERCOSUR and the signing of the free agreement of ALCA no later than December 2004. A much different path than Chavez’ wish of unilaterally having Venezuela joining MERCOSUR and outright rejection of ALCA.


This all came after Colombian President Uribe publicly scolded Hugo Chávez in his opening speech, saying that “ countries should examine their conscience..that it was a shame not to fulfill CAN agreements….joining MERCOSUR can be done but respecting the CAN agreements and that it was a grave error to talk about integration while simultaneously trying to destroy it because of violations of the regulations”. Maybe that is why Chavez went to Cuba this weekend; he is trapped in his contradictions and the realpolitik of integration in Latin America.

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