Lula, Brazil's current president came to Uruguay, and held a private meeting with our president Tabare Vázquez, in the countryside presidential residence "La Estancia Anchorena" in Colonia.
They seem to have agreed that it's ok for Uruguay to negotiate outside the Mercosur economic block.
Brazil is Uruguay, and Argentina's big brother in the Mercosur, if Lula supports this sort of economic agreement outside the block I guess Argentina will have to put up with it. It's a bit pathetic that we have to go by asking permission to do things, when is something that doesn't happen the other way around, but that's the way it is (let's face it... we are a midget in the middle of two basketball players).
I'm not sure whether Lula's word is enough, I'll be more comfortable when they reach a legal agreement, maybe modifying the Mercosur constitution, to back up what Lula said. Since I think this is against Mercosur's legislation (not that anyone is paying much attention to it latetly).
"Withing the block is better", said brazilian economy minister who came along, and I agree, but now is more of a guideline, not a rule.
Uruguay has recently established a trade agreement named TIFA (TRADE AND INVESTMENT FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT) with USA, as a second option after almost agreeing on an FTA.
Our economy minister, Danilo Astori, who is maybe the greatest sponsor of an FTA with the US, has publicly declared something like an FTA is not discarded ("no hay nada descartado acerca del TLC") after establishing the TIFA.
In the meantime, US president, Bush, comes to visit Uruguay in two weeks, and Chavez who is coming to Argentina, will demonstrate in Buenos Aires, right in front of Uruguay's embassy, against the presence of Bush (or as he prefers...mr danger) in the region.
I feel when Bush arrives Astori along with our president will replay the FTA card.
Is this the beginning of the end of the Mercosur?...