Venezuela officially entered Mercosur on Friday. This both increases the trading bloc's economic power and shifts its policies further away from radical, unregulated, laissez faire-style "free market" capitalism.
The ten countries that comprise Mercosur -- Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia -- have pledged to create new jobs, increase trade, and fight poverty in a tightly regulated, but prosperous market of 250,000,000 people.
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's anti-U.S. leader, urged Mercosur to put aside internal squabbles and stand against the U.S.-backed free-market policies he says "enslaved" the region in debt to the International Monetary Fund.
"Latin America has all it needs to become a great world power. Let's not put any limits on our dreams. Let's make them reality," Chavez said.
Venezuela, which formally became a full member of Mercusor at the summit, vowed to tackle social poverty and abolish capitalism in the country. "Capitalism is perverse – if you are rich you get looked after but if you are poor, you die," said the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Bush administration took no apparent notice of Latin America. They were busy building democracies in Iraq and Lebanon.