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Cablegate: Paraguay Unlikely to Approve Venezuela's Mercosur

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAC #0695 3631655
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 291655Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0342
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS

id: 241955
date: 12/29/2009 16:55
refid: 09ASUNCION695
origin: Embassy Asuncion
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09ASUNCION681|09ASUNCION97|09BRASILIA1476
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB
DE RUEHAC #0695 3631655
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 291655Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0342
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
----------------- header ends ----------------
C O N F I D E N T I A L ASUNCION 000695
SIPDIS
WHA/FO CMCMULLEN, WHA/BSC MDRUCKER, BFRIEDMAN, MDASCHBACH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2034/12/29
TAGS: PREL EINT ECIN ECON PGOV PA VE
SUBJECT: PARAGUAY UNLIKELY TO APPROVE VENEZUELA'S MERCOSUR
APPLICATION
REF: A. ASUNCION 97; B. BRASILIA 1476; C. ASUNCION 681
CLASSIFIED BY: Perry L. Holloway, Charge de Affairs; REASON: 1.4(B),
(D)
1. (U) Despite President Fernando Lugo's strong political
support in favor of Venezuela's entry into Mercosur (ref A),
Paraguay's Congress, the population in general, and leading daily
newspaper ABC Color remain opposed to the measure. While Lugo
asked Congress to approve Venezuela's admission in October 2008, he
withdrew the measure from Congress August 13 to avoid imminent
rejection. Lugo has yet to resubmit the measure to Congress for
consideration. After the Brazilian Congress approved Venezuela's
entry December 15 (ref B), public debate resumed in Paraguay - the
last holdout among the four-nation block.
2. (U) The Colorado Party (ANR) opposes Venezuelan entry,
citing Venezuela's violation of Mercosur's democratic charter
clause under President Hugo Chavez. Also in opposition are the
National Union of Ethical Citizens (UNACE) and the Beloved
Fatherland Party (PPQ). These three parties collectively hold
sufficient Senate seats to block Venezuelan admission should Lugo
force a vote. Faced with a clear lack of votes, the small, leftist
Tekojoja Popular Party called December 26 for a public referendum
to build pressure on Congress. However, a referendum is opposed as
unconstitutional even by some Authentic Radical Liberal Party
(PLRA) senators who might be willing to vote in favor of Venezuelan
membership.
3. (C) ABC Color routinely runs stories critical of Venezuela
and is a strong voice against Venezuelan entry. Another leading
newspaper published a poll December 29 showing 52% of voters who
live in Asuncion and the Central Region are opposed to letting
Venezuela join Mercosur, with only 29% in favor. Privately, the
Paraguayan Foreign Minster Hector Lacognata concedes that approval
for Venezuelan admission into Mercosur "won't happen here even if
Chavez dresses up like Santa Claus" (ref C).
4. (C) COMMENT: Venezuela is a political hot potato in
Paraguay, with President Lugo taking lumps from the press every
time he does anything remotely pro-Chavez. Firm opposition from
the ANR, UNACE, and PPQ, coupled with some PLRA members who are
hesitant to cast a vote in support of Chavez, means Paraguay is
unlikely to approve Venezuela's entry into Mercosur. However,
Venezuela is rumored to be increasing its lobbying efforts to sway
- or buy - votes one-by-one. END COMMENT.
HOLLOWAY
=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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