Chavez Wants Venezuela to Join Mercosur

On Sunday, during his usual radio program, Hugo Chavez, made clear his idea to develop closer ties with Brazil and Argentina and, eventually, be a formal member of the Mercosur block. If Caracas' approach is taken seriously by Brazil and Buenos Aires, the geopolitical structure of Latin America could change dramatically and the world would see the birth of a new strategic power.

"I have already talked about this before: now more than never Venezuela aims to be part of the Mercosur", said Chavez during his weekly speech named "Alo Presidente". Chavez also said that he shared Brazil and Argentina's will to restructure Mercosur and went further when announced that Venezuela was ready to help to reach such objective.

"We have to give Mercosur a political dimension, not only economical, to make it the framework of South America's political union", expressed Chavez. On Venezuela President’s words, powerful South America could contribute to world's balance.

A potential union between Venezuela and Mercosur could be of geopolitical interest for the world. Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil producer; at the same time, Brazil is the world's largest offshore oil producer and both countries hold State-owned crude monopolies. Therefore, the oil production, pumping, exportation and reserves are controlled by the State.

In Argentina the situation is different. This South American country is an important oil exporter, but the activity has been privatized in 1999. Today, the Spanish group Repsol-YPF controls the national company, but reserves still belong to the State.

If Argentina dares to review oil contracts, it could join Brazil and Venezuela to create the world's largest oil pole, by surpassing Middle East and Russia. Therefore, would play a decisive role to establish prices in the oil industry and become a key energetic factor.

This is only speculation; however it could turn into reality some day. Today, Venezuela is member of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN by its initials in Spanish), together with Bolivia (Mercosur associated member), Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. The Mercosur and the CAN are negotiating since 1995 a formal integration between both blocks. However, until now, talks did not reach positive results. It is of Washington’s interest not to allow further South American integration outside the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

During the Independence wars against the Spanish Kingdom at the beginning of the XIX Century, the Venezuelan Simon Bolivar and the Argentine General Jose de San Martin drove South America to liberation. Both Chavez's self-denominated "Bolivarian Revolution" and the new Brazilian process led by Lula Da Silva, have targeted South American integration, as their main goal on foreign policy. Will Lula and Chavez be the Bolivar and the San Martin of the new millenium? Perhaps they are the last chance for the region.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

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