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Mercosur Bloc Suspends Caracas from Presidency - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Caracas- The South American economic bloc Mercosur has suspended Venezuela for failing to fulfill its membership obligations.

The bloc’s founding members – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – made the decision after concluding Venezuela had not incorporated key rules on trade and human rights into national law.

According to news reports, the bloc’s four foreign ministers drafted a statement explaining that Venezuela has not complied with agreements by the December 1st deadline.

Since 2015, tensions between Venezuela and its Mercosur partners have been exacerbated by the replacement of left-wing presidents by center-right leaders in Argentina and Brazil.

Last July, Brazil refused to accept the transfer of the Mercosur Presidency to its South American neighbor.

At the time, Brazil justified its opposition stating that “a government that maintains political prisoners, persecutes opponents, disrespects the legislative body and interferes with the judiciary cannot preside over Mercosur.”

Notably, Mercosur was founded in 1991 and accepted Venezuela as a member in 2012.

In addition to the four founding members, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname are associate countries of the regional trade bloc.

Replying to this suspension, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told reporters: “If they close the door to us we will go through the window.”

“Venezuela does not need an invitation because it is for the time being president of Mercosur.”

Rodriguez said she had not been notified in accordance with the rules of Mercosur and said Venezuela was the victim of “a coup at the heart of Mercosur.”

“An illegal Mercosur is being born,” she said at a press conference in Caracas.

Maduro’s socialist government, which has lost allies in the region as various countries including Argentina have moved to the right, says its suspension from the bloc is an unjustified and illegal “coup.”

Venezuela, home to some of the world’s largest oil reserves, was seen then as a key trade partner by regional heavyweights Brazil and Argentina, both of whom had leftist governments allied with former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s mentor and predecessor.

Although Venezuela is a big importer of Mercosur products, it has struggled to pay for them as its economy crumbled because of lower oil prices.