On Tuesday, June 14, the President of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, announced that in his capacity as pro tempore president of MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South), he approved Bolivia’s full entry into the bloc. He made this announcement in his speech during the anniversary commemoration for the cessation of hostilities between Bolivia and Paraguay in the Chaco War of 1932-1935.
“Paraguay has already approved the full entry of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to MERCOSUR,” said the Paraguayan president. “I hope that soon, in my capacity as pro tempore president of MERCOSUR, as I have been doing since the first day, as president of the Republic, I will continue working so that soon Bolivia will be a full member of MERCOSUR.”
Abdo Benítez said that it is necessary to strengthen this bloc which represents 300 million inhabitants and which currently produces food for more than 1.5 billion people in the world.
“This is the time to chart a common destiny and walk together to strengthen the region,” he said.
In July 2021, at the 58th Ordinary Meeting of the MERCOSUR Council, Bolivian Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Integration, Benjamín Blanco, reiterated the desire of the Bolivian people to be a full member of the regional bloc.
“Our people seek Latin American integration, for that reason the process of adhesion to MERCOSUR will allow the generation of commercial opportunities and to unite our peoples even more,” Blanco had said.
MERCOSUR’s web page now indicates that the Plurinational State of Bolivia in the process of accession. Bolivia has been an associate member until now.
“The Protocol of Accession of Bolivia to MERCOSUR was signed by all the States Parties in 2015 and is currently in the process of being incorporated by the congresses of the States Parties,” the webpage reads.
President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, and his Paraguayan counterpart Abdo Benítez also signed a joint statement renewing their commitment to peace and fraternity between Paraguay and Bolivia and committing to strengthening their bilateral relationship.
(Hilo) Conmemoramos, con emoción, el Cese de Hostilidades, hace 87 años, de la Guerra del Chaco. Expresamos al Presidente de la hermana República de Paraguay, hermano Mario Abdo Benítez, la más cálida bienvenida y el pedido de transmitir nuestros saludos al pueblo paraguayo. pic.twitter.com/cUkD05Ey7N
— Luis Alberto Arce Catacora (Lucho Arce) (@LuchoXBolivia) June 14, 2022
MERCOSUR currently has five full members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, although Venezuela has been suspended since 2017, in a political decision made by right-wing governments of the region in a bid to isolate the country. There is renewed hope that with more amicable relations between Venezuela and Argentina, and the joining of Bolivia, the bloc may soon consider revocating the suspension of Venezuela. There has already been some discussion in this regard earlier this year, when a group of Venezuelan National Assembly members visited Paraguay and met with Paraguayan parliamentarians.
Apart from the five full members, there are seven associated states: Bolivia (in the process of entry), Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Surinam.