MONTEVIDEO – Bolivia, which is in the process of becoming a Mercosur member, urged Uruguay on Monday to hand over the group’s pro-tempore chairmanship to Venezuela during the second half of 2016.
Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga and his counterparts from Uruguay, Rodolfo Nin Novoa, and Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez, along with diplomats from Mercosur members Brazil and Argentina, met on Monday in Montevideo in response to a call for a gathering by Paraguay.
The diplomats were to discuss the transfer of the regional trade group’s chair from Uruguay to Venezuela, after the government in Asuncion formulated objections.
Last week, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on Uruguay to hand over the group’s chair to Venezuela, and Bolivia’s ambassador to the trade bloc, Benjamin Blanco, on Monday said that the “transfer is due, and order in our institutions and in Mercosur must be respected.”
Blanco said when he arrived for the meeting that he was acting on behalf of Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, but he left when told that the gathering was not an official Mercosur meeting and, therefore, Bolivia was not invited.
Blanco said that as soon as Bolivia was allowed to express opinions in an official Mercosur meeting, it would request that the bloc’s chair be transferred “automatically to Venezuela.”
The Bolivian envoy said he did not see any need to postpone the process as requested by Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Serra.