Jorge Taiana, a former foreign minister and the current head of Parlasur (the parliamentary body representing the Mercosur trading bloc), was jeered at by fellow Parlasur members during a commemoration of Mercosur’s 25th anniversary for having alluded to the current political crisis in Brazil, which sees Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff embroiled in an impeachment process, as a “parliamentary coup” in a written statement on Mercosur’s website.
In his written statement, Taiana claimed that the events in Brazil reflect a “parliamentary coup” and a “forced use of the law” in the impeachment process against Dilma. Amid calls to step down, Dilma is accused of allegedly manipulating government finances to hide Brazil’s growing deficit and for obstructing the investigation regarding the Petrobras corruption scandal. Taiana also made references to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s idea that, “Where Brazil goes, Latin America will follow” to warn of the huge regional impact that such an impeachment could have.
Shortly after the parliamentary session began, 17 of the 20 Brazilian delegates left the premises in protest of Taiana’s “irresponsible declaration” — and also because they were offended about being assigned seats in the way back. No joke.
“This sort of declaration has no place in Mercosur, even less so on the official website of the institution. We all [had a meeting] and decided to leave the premises, with the support of the head of our delegation,” said one of the Brazilian delegates, Benito Gama.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira, made no mention of Dilma’s impeachment in his speech to Parlasur.
However, Taiana’s statements were not the only thing to make things go awry in the 25th anniversary: of the five presidents invited to the event, only one — Uruguay’s Tabaré Vázquez — was present (bear in mind that he was the host, as the commemoration took place in his country). Not only that, but Venezuelan delegates held up signs and protested against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, demanding that Mercosur countries support them as a referendum on Maduro stepping down is allegedly being delayed intentionally.
Nor was Taiana the only one to refer to Brazil’s political situation: Uruguayan politician Rodolfo Nin Novoa also mentioned that:
“Mercosur should guarantee respect towards democratic institutions in the countries that are a part [of the bloc]. Justice, legality and legitimacy should be above political positions.”
In addition, Uruguay tried to push through a regional declaration of support for Dilma, which failed. In general, the commemoration was more a reflection of the current weaknesses of Mercosur than it was of its 25-year tenure based on the unity of the countries involved.
Mercosur is a trade block established in 1991 comprising member states Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, and Parlasur is its parliamentary body. The organization focuses mainly on developing economic measures aimed at promoting free trade and market union.