Vinod Sreeharsha – McClatchy, 07/09/2012
SAO PAULO — With the help of Brazil, South America’s largest economy, Venezuela has joined the regional economic alliance Mercosur, once heralded as the continent’s answer to the European Union.
But the addition of Venezuela has angered one of the 21-year-old trading bloc’s founding members, Paraguay, which considers the move retribution for the June impeachment of its president, Fernando Lugo. In addition to Brazil, the other members of Mercosur are Argentina and Uruguay.
Many are also questioning the impact of adding a country led by Hugo Chavez, a staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy and a frequent and capricious intervener in the free-market economy. The 57-year-old Chavez has had three cancer surgeries but says he’s in remission and is running for re-election in October.