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Cablegate: Venezuelan Mercosul Accession May Not Pass

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0070
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6311
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RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3802
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7036
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RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7172
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5175
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 0883
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001865

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2017
TAGS: PREL ECIN BR VE XR
SUBJECT: VENEZUELAN MERCOSUL ACCESSION MAY NOT PASS
BRAZILIAN CONGRESS

REF: BRASILIA 1568

Classified By: Ambassador Clifford M. Sobel, reasons 1.4 b & d

1. (SBU) Summary. The bill to approve Venezuelan accession
to Mercosul may not pass the Brazilian congress, in spite of
support from the administration and the government's large
majority in the chamber of deputies. President Chavez may
have torpedoed Venezuela's chances when, at the September 20
summit with President Lula in Manaus, Brazil, he reportedly
insulted the Brazilian congress a second time. Although GOB
officials continue to express confidence in eventual passage
of the bill, the chamber of deputies has postponed
consideration of the bill to late October, and a leading
senator believes the Senate may reject the bill. End summary.

2. (U) Venezuelan accession to Mercosul may be rejected by
the Brazilian congress after President Hugo Chavez again
insulted the congress during his summit with President Lula
on September 20 in Manaus, Brazil. Consideration of the bill
in the chamber of deputies Foreign Relations and National
Defense Committee had already been delayed a week when four
deputies, one a former defense minister and immediate past
president of the chamber of deputies from a party in the
government coalition, requested more time to examine the
proposal. On September 26 the committee decided to postpone
consideration until October 24, reportedly because of
"pending technical issues" that should have been resolved
before the protocol on Venezuelan accession was signed last
year, and because Chavez's remarks had "generated a bad
feeling," in the words of Deputy Vieira da Cunha (government
coalition PDT, Rio Grande do Sul state), the committee
chairman.

3. (C) In a meeting with Ambassador Sobel on September 26,
Senator Heraclito Fortes (opposition DEM, Piaui state),
chairman of the senate Foreign Relations and National Defense
Committee, said it would now be hard for Venezuelan Mercosul
accession to pass the senate. "Chavez is playing an unclear
game," Fortes said, "because he faces domestic difficulties
in joining Mercosul" even as he presses for it on the
international front. Fortes went on to say, "His behavior
proves he is not normal, and now we have the Manaus
declarations against Congress." Fortes added that Chavez
would like to have veto power in Mercosul, which would be
"too much power for someone so unstable." Moreover, Fortes
said, compliance with the Democracy Clause would be hard for
Chavez to achieve. Summing up, Fortes said it would be hard
for the bill to pass his committee, a change from early
August (reftel), when he seemed to favor approving Venezuelan
accession, despite his negative views of Chavez.

4. (C) At a September 28 meeting, Clemente de Lima Baena
Soares, who heads the office at the Ministry of External
Relations (Itamaraty) covering Andean countries, Guyana, and
Suriname, told PolCouns that he had been in Manaus for the
Lula-Chavez Summit and that the one newspaper that reported
Chavez's comments about the Brazilian congress (O Estado de
Sao Paulo) got it wrong. He said other papers had not
reported and had even denied that Chavez had made such a
comment. (Note: This is inaccurate, as Chavez's remarks were
also reported by O Globo and Correio Braziliense. End note.)
He acknowledged, however, that the damage had been done, and
said that Venezuelan accession will certainly not be approved
before the end of the year, and would now require a great
deal of effort from the Administration to ensure passage. He
was optimistic that it would eventually be approved, though,
saying it was a high priority for the Administration, and
they would do the deals necessary in the senate to make sure
it happens.

5. (C) Comment: The GOB's strong support for Venezuela's
entry into Mercosul almost certainly reflects a strategy that
aims to counter Chavez's regional influence and integration
plans by moving him into an organization over which Brazil
exercises a great deal of control. However, whether reported
accurately or not, the backlash caused by Chavez's comments
regarding the Brazilian congress have put the GOB in a
difficult position and have raised serious doubts about the
prospects for approval of Venezuela's entry in Mercosul, when
only a week ago most commentators believed it was simply a
question of time. Ultimately, though, we believe that if

BRASILIA 00001865 002 OF 002


Lula wants Venezuelan accession to Mercosul he can give
legislators enough incentives to ensure passage.

Sobel

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