The biggest story here is that apart from the fact that Chavez is coming under attack for extending the term of his office by way of the constitution, as far as regional integration initiatives go, more exciting things are happening. Last week, for example, the personable Christine Kirchner, President of Argentina, met up with Chavez.
The objective of the meeting was to deepen ties between the two countries. To the extent that a good 21 new cooperation agreements were signed, plus the bullet-point notes of: meeting once every three months; and alternating the meeting between Venezuela and Argentina all have lent credence to the idea that Venezuela and Argentina are getting things "right" on fostering their regional integration.
Fostering integration is very often about deepening ties between, and among the countries in the region. Perhaps here in the ECOWAS region, Ghana and Nigeria come close to doing that more often than with the other thirteen members of ECOWAS; I do sure hope we could see more Ghana-Gambia / Ghana-Senegal / Ghana-Cote d'Ivoire / Ghana-Mali interactions. If you think about the permutations that can occur between and among countries in any grouping, it is more than astronomical.
It's More than in the Eyes
Going back to the issue of developments in the region, one reads further that Brazil and Venezuela are also strengthening their regional cooperation after the 6th Bilateral Summit, which was held in the "western oil-producing state of Zulia."
Now when we talk about Brazil and Venezuela, we are in essence talking about regional hegemons--even if Venezuela has yet to be comprehensively ensconced in the MERCOSUR region.
The meeting was more than bombastic talk: it saaw the two leaders of Chavez and Lula driving through a "commnal city" named "The Labyrinth", which is...
"a growing agricultural community of 157 families, where an irrigation system is being developed with Brazilian technology."
There were also inspections of a 2,050 acre cattle-raising complex in The Labyrinth, supplied by what the Venezuelan leader calls "very resistant" Brazilian cattle breed.
Venezuela will, in turn, be creating a large food depot to give food security to its people, with Venezuela ready to transfer technology from the agricultural revolution the country has experienced since the sixties--all this so that Venezuela can also create its own agricultural revolution.
The long-and-short of it all is that if ever we thought Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina are playing games with rhetoric about fostering a strong and cohesive MERCOSUR, these developments better dispel that myth fast!
pictures are from http://www.venezuelananalysis.com