President Hugo Chavez is feeling well enough...to leave Caracas for the first time in a year...since returning there from numerous Cuban cancer treatments.
Chavez heads to Brasilia...finally able to join the Mercosur trading group...after 6 years of efforts blocked by Paraguay.
Chavez, 58...just celebrated a birthday and has been campaigning more actively...still leading in polls over his younger opponent Henrique Capriles.
AND: LONG ANALYSIS: What is Mercosur? Since it was established in 1995...trade within it has grown 4x to $51 billion...but ugly disputes between Brasil and Argentina have weakened it.
Trade between the 2 giants shrank 12% in Jan til June...and plummeted by 32% in June!