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South Mercosur Summit slams EU, U.S. while spurring internal unity
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17:18, July 04, 2008

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The 35th Common Market of the South (Mercosur) Summit ended in Tucuman, Argentine on Tuesday, or July 1. The presidents of the five member countries and two liaison nations, who attended the summit, paid close attention to such issues as those relating to the new EU immigration law, the re-establishment of the U.S. Navy Fourth Fleet to oversee the Latin America region, and soaring global oil and food prices.

In a statement issued by the summit, the Mercosur leaders vehemently denounced the new immigration law adopted by EU with an aim to detain and repatriate illegal immigrants, which they claim has the nature of "racial discrimination and racial persecution" and evolves a grave encroachment on human rights. There are a large number of Latin Americans who have immigrated to Europe in varied ways, and the new EU immigration law is expected to produce a great negative impact on those immigrants from Latin America.

The US Navy re-established its Fourth Fleet as of July 1st to oversee ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean and Central and South Atlantic. Both Brazilian President Luiz Iganacio Lula da Silva and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez voiced their concerns over it during the summit. President Luiz Ignacio Lula said he hoped that the U.S. would explain why it had reestablished the Fourth Fleet at the region of Latin America, an entirely peaceful region. He also disclosed that he had asked Foreign Minister Celso Amorin to talk with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the issue.

Meanwhile, President Hugo Chavez called the U.S. to account. He asked the US government "why it is sending the powerful naval force to a peaceful region". "I don't have any doubt it's a threat," Chavez said. The U.S. Fourth Fleet, which was first established during World War II, suspended its operation right after the war and was disbanded in 1950. So the reestablishment of this fleet after an interval of nearly six decades, has drawn grave concern of many Latin Americans.

The Mercosur leaders also focused on soaring global oil and food prices. They appealed to the international community to crackdown on speculative capital inflows that had raised food prices, while they prompted developed nations to eliminate agricultural subsidies for creating a fair environment in global agricultural trade.

While the summit was still in session, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture voiced its readiness to invest 40.3 billion US dollars to expand cereals production and promised to implement the lowest price purchase policy to encourage farming. As a leading wheat producer, Argentine assured its normal wheat exports to Brazil and Uruguay. The Argentine government raised farm produce export tariffs in March 2008 and it set off a general strike of more than 100 days, seriously affecting its wheat export to the two countries. So leaders of both Brazil and Uruguay capitalized on the occasion of this summit to urge the Argentine leader to resume normal wheat trade.

Moreover, the Mercosur statement cites bio-energy as a vital substitutable energy source worthy of further spread. Brazil and Argentine, two major agricultural nations, held the view that the tapping of bio-energy is of great importance to their development, whereas Venezuela, a leading oil producer and a cereals importer, once took a definite negative approach on bio-energy, but eventually agreed to include the development of bio-energy into the statement.

Overall, the summit provides a platform for the Mercosur leaders to discuss global issues and exchange views. Leaders of Brazil, Argentine and Venezuela underscored within a smaller scope the resolve to advance their tripartite alliance. The energy strength of Venezuela and the industrial strength of Brazil plus the agricultural strength of Argentine will be amassed to enrich the contents of the tripartite alliance, noted Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez meanwhile acknowledged that the "Caracas-Brasilia-Buenos Aires axis" could become the backbone of the South American geopolitics.

By People's Daily online and its author is Fan Jianqing, a PD resident reporter in Buenos Aires



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