Macri to Pursue Venezuela Suspension from MERCOSUR, Opposition Celebrates

Prominent members of the Venezuelan opposition are describing the electoral victory of controversial millionaire businessman Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential elections this Sunday as a ray of “hope” for Latin America. An adversary of the Bolivarian process, Macri has vowed to push for Venezuela’s expulsion from MERCOSUR. 

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Opposition activist Lilian Tintori congratulates Macri on his presidential win. (Reuters)
Opposition activist Lilian Tintori congratulates Macri on his presidential win. (Reuters)

November 23rd 2015, Caracas (venezuelanalysis.com) - Prominent members of Venezuela’s political opposition, the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD), are publicly celebrating the electoral victory of rightwing candidate Mauricio Macri, who was elected president of Argentina Sunday with 51.5% of the vote. 

Millionaire businessman and culturally conservative Macri will replace Cristina Kirchner of the Peronist Party– a close and longtime ally to the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. 

“Today hope won in Latin America and its next destination will be our beloved Venezuela. Today Argentina made the impossible possible. In Unity, we too will achieve it,” tweeted opposition activist Lilian Tintori, whose politician husband, Leopoldo Lopez, was tried and convicted in September of inciting public violence and attempting to unseat the national government during last year's rightwing street protests. 

Macri has pledged to adopt pro-business measures and economic reform during his term, describing his victory as “the changing of an era”. But detractors fear that he will roll back the social programs implemented by his social democrat predecessors and return the country to the neoliberal economic model that plunged Argentina into financial crisis in 2001.

As one of the most high profile faces of the Venezuelan opposition, Tintori was present in the Argentine capital when the results were announced and a photo of her giving the newly elected Macri a congratulatory kiss has circulated widely on the web. 

Her hope to see a repeat in Venezuela of the businessman’s triumph over a longtime left-leaning administration was echoed by the rest of the MUD coalition, which described Sunday’s results as “inspiring”. 

“If there is a politician in the region supporting democracy in the country, it is Macri… What is running through Latin America is our people’s decision for change,” stated a “very happy” Jesús Torrealba, Secretary of the MUD. 

The coalition also published an official communique on Monday, congratulating Macri and highlighting his solidarity with the “democratic cause” in Venezuela.  

A committed ally of the Venezuelan opposition, Macri vowed that he would use a presidential win to put pressure on the current Venezuelan government through regional blocs– a promise which he swears to make good on. 

Less than 24 hours after being announced as Sunday’s winner, the ex-Buenos Aires mayor confirmed that he would attempt to have Venezuela disqualified from the regional trading body Mercosur for having “violated its democratic clause”. In particular, Macri referenced the cases of jailed opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, and Antonio Ledezma. 

“If I said it, it’s because I made a commitment, we will invoke the democratic clause,” he told press.  

But reactions to Macri’s comments from fellow Mercosur members suggest that he could find it difficult to rally support for anti-Venezuela sentiment within the regional body. 

Just hours after his remarks were circulated, Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa hit back, saying that the “conditions” for such an expulsion did not exist.

“Venezuela is a long way off from a violation of the democratic order,” he stated.  

Argentina’s fiercely contested elections were widely reported as a plebiscite on the string of progressive governments elected in Latin America over the past fifteen years. Known as the Pink Tide, Venezuela is often credited with having paved the way for the continental movement to the left and its rejection of neoliberalism. 

On December 6th, the country will also head to the polls to elect its legislative representatives to the National Assembly.  

The upcoming elections are touted as the most difficult yet for the country’s Chavista government, which is facing soaring levels of inflation, economic sabotage and scarcities of household staples. It has won all but one of the elections held in the country over the past fifteen years. 

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