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Market of the South at the Crossroads

Market of the South at the Crossroads

Miguel Lozano
Caracas.- Beyond annecdotes about the entrance of Venezuela in the Market of the South (MERCOSUR), this group is in a definitory phase in the regional integration process.
The pretext upheld by parliamentarians of Brazil and Paraguay to delay Venezuela s application to become member -the non renewal of a concession to a private TV station- is negligible in the political context in which it takes place.
In the opinion of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, what is at stake is the rejection by some sectors of the traditional right, of the new integrationist approach demanded by peoples.
The real reason is that Venezuela has not "deregulated its economy" to stop supporting domestic businesspeople, says Chavez, for whom this system places the aspirations of capital and money over those of peoples interests.
The stand of Venezuela is based upon the need to introduce an integration model that respects and recognizes the assymetries of the MERCOSUR member countries.
In the opinion of Saul Ortega, president of the Venezuelan parliamentary comission of Foreign Policy, many Brazilian lawmakers oppose the entrance of Venezuela, would gladly approve if it was only a question of expanding a market of 27 million persons for their products.
However, even before applying to enter, president Chavez made it clear that he was in favor of pushing for changes in the bloc, beyond its original trade and economic objectives, sure that it can become the axis of integration in the region.
For some observers like Aram Aharonian, Vice President of the multistate TV channel Telesur, at the bottom of the conflict lies the definition of what kind of integration is wanted.
In his opinion, the bloc must choose either the neoliberal continuity, supported by big economic national and transnational groups, or one of cooperation, complementation and solidarious integration, based on a strategy of political, economic, social and cultural transformations.
The case of Venezuela, as seen from Caracas, surpasses the reach of short episodes and confrontations between officials and diplomats to acquire a strategic nature, linked to the region s future.
If Venezuela becomes a member, this would open the way for other nations to become members. On the contrary, it World impla the closing of a road to integration and thus make it necessary to find other mechanisms to push them open, for which MERCOSUR seems to be the right tool.
If the door is closed on Venezuela, than other expectations would be blocked to the region s popular movements, which have expressed interest to add a social dimension to the block, beyond the purely economic goals.
Source: Prensa Latina

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