In a wide-ranging speech at the 51st Mercosur Summit in Brasilia, Brazil on Thursday, Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri reiterated his country’s concerns about the complex political and economic situation in Venezuela.
“We at the Mercosur reiterate our call for human rights to be respected (in Venezuela), for freedom to be granted to political prisoners and for the hasty adoption of an electoral calendar that guarantees open and transparent elections”, he said of the full-member country that has been barred from the Mercosur since 2006.
Macri has generally been seen as critical of the Mercosur. However on Thursday, he reaffirmed his country's place in the sub-regional bloc and called for a “Mercosur for the 21st century”.
“We reaffirm once again Argentina’s commitment to the Mercosur” he declared.
Praising the relationship between Buenos Aires and Brasilia, where Macri has found a natural ally in Brazilian President Michel Temer, he added that “we have worked hard to deepen our work and make concrete steps in our attempts at integration”.
On the economic front, the president said he looked forward to finally signing off on a trade deal with the European Union, which he labeled “particularly relevant in attempts to attract investment and encourage employment in our countries”.
In his mind, this was “a type of globalisation that creates the right conditions for fair trade while also protecting the most vulnerable”.
The Mecosur is in continual trade-deal negotiations with the European Union and the Pacific Alliance, a bloc which is composed of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Such negotiations with the Pacific Alliance are expected to be facilitated by the return to office of Chilean president-elect Sebastián Piñera.