When the presidents of the Mercosur countries assembled in Montevideo for their bi-annual summit in December, one of the seats around the table was empty. As the meeting took place, the President of Argentina, Fernando de la Rua, was facing a revolt on the streets of Buenos Aires. The disturbances ended with twenty seven people dead and the President’s resignation.
These momentous events capped a difﬁcult period for Mercosur, South America’s leading regional trade block. Since Brazil’s devaluation and switch to a ﬂoating exchange rate in January 1999, it has been dogged by rows between the two main partners.