Your August 7, article “Brazil says Mexico may join MERCOSUR”, made an excellent point when it addressed the current confusion related to the expansion of the South American bloc. Venezuela’s July 4 admission to MERCOSUR (Mercado Comun del Sur) marks a watershed for the free-trade organization. Even so, some Brazilian industry leaders feared that Hugo Chavez’s membership could “excessively politicize” the group. Brazil, which at first refused to consider Mexico’s request to become a full member, is now willing to integrate its North American peer into the trading alliance within the next 12 months. The decision was partly in function of Brazil’s concern over perhaps Chavez’s excessive anti-imperialistic rhetoric, illustrating that MERCOSUR has to accommodate discrepancies between the different perspectives among its members, as it increasingly includes countries that have different political ideologies. The organization’s potential enlargement might erode its unity and bring about a great deal of instability, a fact demonstrated by Uruguay’s recent threat to leave the Common Market.
Despite these internal conflicts, the inclusion of new partners should not be seen as a potential threat to the credibility of the organization. Absorbing new adherences, regardless of their political stance, will perforce benefit the entire trade pact even if some structural adjustments are necessary for MERCOSUR to run smoothly. In order to achieve this aim, it is important to treat each country with the same respect, enabling each nation to be part of a whole, capable of working hand in hand. As Fidel Castro recently underlined, those changes may even progress to the creation of a “social MERCOSUR” that will “change the world”.