• A version of this post ran on the author's blog. The views expressed are the author's own.
It is truly sad to realize that so many Latin American leaders lack ethics. But what else can you say about Mercosur’s decision to suspend Paraguay as a member until a new president is elected and then have a few presidents meet to rush to allow Venezuela to become a member using that loophole? This could only be done because Paraguay was the only country objecting to Venezuela’s entry into this “free market.” But Paraguay is still a member of Mercosur, even if its rights have been temporarily suspended.
Only some Uruguayans seem to be worried about what happened and while that country’s president was part of the back room deal, it is being questioned on both legal and moral grounds. There may be some hope in some countries after all, when the vice-president of Uruguay warns that “it may be that the institutionality of Mercosur is so weak, that it will become useless” because of this perverse act.
And useless it will become, when a group of presidents act like a bunch of hoodlums, making a mockery of Paraguay’s rights within Mercosur to allow them to take advantage of Chavez’s grandiose plans to belong to a free trade pact that we can not export anything into.
Because that is all they want, to be able to shove down Venezuela’s throats their products, knowing full well, our country will gain little from being a Mercosur member. We only have oil for export and any country in that weird “free trade” zone can impose tariffs on oil if they want.
And as the world watches Venezuela’s Foreign Minister interfering in Paraguay’s very internal affairs, video included, Mercosur’s leaders take sides with their less than democratic, but rich Venezuelan partner, in order to get back at poor Paraguay’s principled opposition to Venezuela’s membership in Mercosur, because they do not believe a country led by an autocrat should be part of their club.
But ethics has not been the forte of Latin American leaders as of late. Human Rights have become secondary to commerce and the gains of the 1980s and '90s in that area have been eroded by the new Latin American Left. One day, when the pendulum swings against them, they may come to regret it.