Mercosur Suspends Venezuela

South American trade bloc Mercosur has agreed to suspend Venezuela, officials reportedly said Thursday.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

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Venezuela has been a member of Mercosur since 2012. (Prensa Seniat)
Venezuela has been a member of Mercosur since 2012. (Prensa Seniat)
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Puebla, Mexico, December 2, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – South American trade bloc Mercosur officially suspended Venezuela Friday.

In a letter delivered to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, the bloc said Caracas had been stripped of "the rights inhered to a member state as of this date".

Rodriguez responded by describing the move as part of a "coup" within Mercosur.

""An illegal Mercosur is being born," she said.

The announcement comes after weeks of talks among Mercosur diplomats, according to anonymous Brazilian officials who spoke to Reuters on Thursday.

"Venezuela has not adopted all the membership rules and treaties it had promised," one of those officials told Reuters.

They added, "Everything indicates that Venezuela will be suspended starting in December."

As late as Thursday, Venezuela was dismissing claims the suspension is a done deal.

“This announcement [of a suspension] doesn’t exist,” Rodriguez said.

“Venezuela will continue to exercise its legitimate presidency, and participate [in Mercosur] with a right to a voice and a vote as a member state,” she said.

Venezuela was expected to assume the Mercosur rotating presidency in July, but the move faced staunch opposition from right-wing governments in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The three right-wing governments have been referred to in South American media as the Triple Alliance.

Critics of Venezuela claim Caracas has failed to implement many of Mercosur’s trade rules. President Nicolas Maduro has accused the right-wing governments that now dominate Mercosur of seeking to destabilise his country.

The issue of Venezuela’s membership has also caused divisions within Mercosur, with the trade bloc’s parliamentary arm, Parlasur, breaking ranks with the Triple Alliance.

On Thursday, the parliament issued a declaration describing the current political state of Mercosur as “irregular,” and calling for the “normalisation” of diplomatic processes.

Meanwhile, Parlasur Vice President Daniel Caggiani has accused the Triple Alliance of pursuing a political agenda, and called for outside mediation.

"Every country in the bloc complies with Mercosur legislation but doesn't incorporate it in their national laws," Caggiani explained.

"If there is in fact non-compliance by Venezuela, this cannot be determined by one of the parties but by a third party acting as mediator,” he said, according to teleSUR.

Venezuela has been a full member of Mercosur since 2012.

Mercosur is one of the world’s largest economic blocs, with member states’ GDP collectively topping US$2.8 trillion. The bloc began in the early 1990s as an effort to promote free trade and neoliberalism, but in recent years was seen as an alliance of some of Latin America’s largest left-wing governments. That began to change in late 2015, when Argentina’s left lost power to the right-wing President Mauricio Macri. Since then Brazil’s left-wing government of Dilma Rousseff has been replaced by the right-wing President Michel Temer.