Objections from Uruguay had previously prevented Mercosur from taking more strenuous action against Venezuela. But the recent events in that country have eroded the last remaining support that Nicolás Maduro still had in the South American trade union. The foreign ministers of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay decided on Saturday in São Paulo on the “political suspension” of Venezuela in Mercosur, a gesture with more symbolic than practical consequences, but that aims to send a clear political message: the “isolation” of Maduro in the region, according to Aloysio Nunes, Brazilian Foreign Minister, who holds the rotating presidency of the organization.
Venezuela had already suffered a”legal suspension” by Mercosur last December, with the explanation that it was non-compliant with some of the treaties of the trade alliance. Now the country suffers the most serious sanction that the South American organization can give for its ” violation of the democratic institutions “. “This is a message to America and to the world: enough of the repressive Venezuela, enough of dictatorial Venezuela, restore democracy”, said the Argentine Chancellor, Jorge Faurie. “Stop torturing your people,” the Brazilian minister said.
Mercosur foreign ministers had already scheduled a tough statement against Maduro two weeks ago at a summit in Mendoza, Argentina, to reject the election of a new constituent assembly in Venezuela. But then the Uruguayan Government’s reluctance to prevent a confrontation with Venezuela prevented further action. The latest developments, especially Maduro’s refusal to hold talks with the other members of the trade bloc, who sought to urge the Caracas government to enter into dialogue with the opposition, eventually overcame the resistance of Uruguay. The Uruguayan foreign minister, Rodolfo Nin Novoa said that the decision to exclude their “brother country” was not “taken with joy”.
The measure is only the “suspension of Venezuela’s rights and obligations” and not its exclusion because countries want to leave the door open to return “as soon as the democratic order is restored,” said the joint statement of the four ministers, and for Caracas “to incorporate into its legal system” the rules of Mercosur. The practical consequences of this suspension are of little relevance, the ministers admitted, but they insisted on the importance of cornering Maduro with “a serious political sanction.” It is also a way of emphasizing that Mercosur, although born as an economic and commercial block, is linked to the reestablishment of democracy in Latin America. “Democracy is in the DNA of Mercosur,” said the Paraguayan minister, Eladio Loizaga.