By Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver:
JULY 31, 2012 will be recalled in the history of Latin America and the
Caribbean as a landmark, a giant step, with Venezuela’s full entry into the
Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), in the first extension of this customs
association in the 21 years of its existence.
It will also be recalled as a resounding failure of the imperial policy of
the United States in relation to a region which it can no longer dominate at its
For Argentine political economist Atilio A. Borón, from the geopolitical
point of view, Venezuela’s inclusion in MERCOSUR after a six-year wait
constitutes the greatest U.S. diplomatic defeat since the disastrous Free Trade
Area of the Americas (FTAA).
Beatriz Miranda, columnist in the Colombian El Espectador, defines it
as a strategic accomplishment, given that the new entrant concedes the bloc a
greater economic and commercial weight. Analysts consider that in geopolitical
terms, Caracas’ arrival represents the possibility of increased Brazilian
insertion in the Andes and Caribbean and Venezuelan access to the South
Atlantic. Thus MERCOSUR is facilitating strategic integration, giving the group
an Amazonian, Atlantic, Caribbean and Andean identity, and a strong energy
Doubtless, this bold step will affect U.S. interests in the region in the
long term, given that it prevents Venezuela from signing a free trade treaty
with this country, still set on re-conquering the Bolivarian Republic’s oil
It is no secret that with Venezuela‘s energy potential – according to the
Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) it has the largest certified oil
reserves in the world: 297,570 million barrels – the industrial vigor of Brazil
(the sixth largest world economy), and the agricultural potential of Argentina
and Uruguay, this regional bloc will acquire a strategic role. Created March 25,
1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, it promotes the free circulation of goods and
services, common external tariffs and trade policy, as well as coordinated
macroeconomic policies among member states and compatible legislation.
In effect, the United States was unable to prevent MERCOSUR, now including
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela (Paraguay’s membership is suspended due
to the parliamentary coup d’état against President Fernando Lugo), from growing
in strength and promoting sovereign economic and social policies in accordance
with national interests, far removed from the dictates of the discredited
financial institution of Bretton Woods and the anti-democratic Washington
The U.S. maneuver to utilize the Paraguayan oligarchy, entrenched in the
country’s Senate, to block Venezuela’s entry backfired. In fact Paraguay’s
suspension and Venezuela’s participation could make MERCOSUR more attractive to
Bolivia, Ecuador and other nations in the region.
From the Planalto Palace, headquarters of the Brazilian government,
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez emphasized the historic importance of the unity
of Latin American countries in terms of promoting their independent development,
within which MERCOSUR represents a platform for the changes needed.
"We are exactly in our historic position, our North is our South, we are
where we always should have been, we are where Bolívar left it to us to arrive,"
the Bolivarian leader affirmed during the extraordinary session of the bloc in
What is being reconfigured is a balance which will allow South America to
address, on more equal footing, other centers of power such as the United States
and the European Union, which have demanded subordination and an anti-national
submission to their transnationals.
BUILDING THE PATRIA GRANDE
According to analysts, Venezuela‘s incorporation into MERCOSUR makes the bloc
the world’s fifth largest economic power, extending from Patagonia to the
Caribbean over an area of close to 13 million square kilometers, linking more
than 270 million inhabitants (70% of the population of South America) to form an
impressive and gigantic bloc with the largest oil reserves, booming
industrialization and excellent potential for food production.
It will have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3.3 trillion at current
prices, equivalent to 83.2% of the Southern Cone GDP, and the largest global
biodiversity and fresh water reserves, a reality very much to be borne in mind
in terms of world geopolitics by the select club of the G-8 and emerging giants
such as China and India, two nations which have a more constructive position in
international economic relations.
In the internal context, Venezuelan José Gregorio Piña emphasizes that while,
initially, the country was only offering MERCOSUR oil and hard currency, "the
panorama has changed, given that it can develop its productive potential through
a more complete relationship with bloc members, which includes complementary
trade, a innovative financial architecture, internal regional investment and the
free circulation of persons and jobs, among others."
Caracas has already invited MERCOSUR enterprises to participate in housing
provision for the Venezuelan people, with a target of three million family
units, as well as conjoint work with the state to promote other social,
industrial and agricultural development projects. The new Venezuela wishes to
leave behind the private model to which it was subjected by the United States,
the only legacy of which was enormous social inequality and widespread
This effort will benefit from the bloc’s creation of a Structural Convergence
Fund to reduce imbalances among its members, in a necessary spirit of solidarity
with the less developed nations. "This is an experiment to reduce the imbalances
of our countries and promote equitable regional development," stated Brazilian
President Dilma Rousseff during the extraordinary summit. She also noted that 40
regional projects have been approved, with an initial start-up fund of $1.1
trillion, good news further boosted by MERCOSUR’s announced expansion of credit
to promote the economy of this part of the world.
Given the blows the United States delivered to progressive processes in
Honduras and Paraguay, a reaction to Venezuela’s inclusion in MERCOSUR is also
anticipated. The country will use any possible means to prevent a united,
prosperous and strong South America capable of defying its political hegemony
and global economy.
This warning was given by Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner,
who urged the member countries present at the summit "to create, sooner rather
than later, the instruments and institutions which will make this new pole of
power indestructible and indivisible." The Argentine leader strongly attacked
attempts by imperialist nations to weaken South America.
MERCOSUR is thus moving ahead to create the Patria Grande to which
Latin American and Caribbean nations rightly aspire.
August 16, 2012