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This week, on the 15th of August, Horácio Cartes – the new president of Paraguay – spoke for the first time as a political authority to his people. His words echoed across the main news channels in South America and they couldn’t have been more in tune to what the people want to hear, or less probable according to reality as they know it.
Cartes stood before his country and with heart felt emotion announced that he had not reached presidency to make a career, nor to get rich – richer – but to serve the people. By his side ‘two distinct ladies’ as Cartes put it himself; Cristina Kirchner and Dilma Rousseff, the presidents of Argentina and Brazil respectively, along with José Mujica the president of Uruguay. Well, but wait a minute – isn’t there someone missing from the Mercosur equation?
Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela was not invited! Venezuela was admitted into the Common Market of the South, Mercosur, on the 31st of July of 2012 upon Paraguay’s temporary suspension about a month before. Venezuela had been kept out of the block so far due to Paraguay’s veto.
On the 22nd of June of 2012, Fernando Lugo, former president of Paraguay was banned from office through an impeachment begun by the legislative power. The impeachment was processed relying on the facts occurred on the previous 15th of June, when peasants illegally occupied private property to claim their precarious situation. No land to work on and live from. The events left 11 peasants and 6 policemen dead while Lugo had 24 hours to prepare a defense before losing his public office and political rights.
As promised, Paraguay would have its place reconsidered upon naming a new president through popular vote; yet it is Paraguay who wants nothing to do with Mercosur anymore – so long Nicolás Maduro is leading the block or even in it as it appears.
Since Maduro wasn’t in the VIP list for the ceremony, the presidents of Bolivia and Equador decided to pass on the event as well. On the other hand, Peruvian and Chilean highest representatives were there bearing smiles.
Chiefs of state together with the people across the nations involved had considered a coup d’état, but so far history moves on with no further consequences to these thoughts. Intriguingly the same political offices that suspect a coup seem to support both sides, going back and forth between them.
In the midst of this political shenanigans the actual question that remains is not who will strong arm who between Cartes and Maduro; but will their citizens joined with the rest of the population of Mercosur – for whom the common market was created – strong arm them?
Considering recent events in South America it is possible to dream! Also, word around social networks in those countries already talks about dates for new protests; it is expected that they include this whole business to their march. Cartes could have been right, it seems he won’t have much time to worry about his own money and career – and he won’t be the only one.