Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez has agreed to meet with the Venezuelan head of state, Nicolas Maduro, to discuss the suspension of the latter from the Mercosur trading bloc.
Maduro asked for the meeting on Saturday, after receiving official notice from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay – three of the four founding members – of its suspension the day before. The three countries, led by right-wing governments and dubbed by Venezuelan officials the “Triple Alliance,” claimed that Venezuela had not fulfilled its membership requirements. Uruguay, the fourth founding member, abstained from the vote.
Speaking from Vienna during a European tour, President Vazquez said that “in politics and diplomacy, nothing is irreversible, everything can change,” referring to the possibility of reversing the suspension.
“But there have to be judicial arguments, legal arguments, solid arguments, in order to see the path that we will take towards the future,” he added.
Vazquez noted that while he is busy traveling through Europe at the moment, he would be more than happy to meet with Maduro to discuss the situation, stressing that they have a “very good personal relationship.”
The Triple Alliance first threatened Venezuela with suspension back in September, giving the socialist nation an arbitrary deadline of Dec. 1 to comply with what they said were membership responsibilities.
But Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez called that decision “absolutely null,” explaining that it was not based on the bloc’s internal regulations but arbitrary rules and deadlines imposed by right-wing governments trying to return Mercosur to a neoliberal path.
“Venezuela will continue to hold its legitimate presidency and will participate with a voice and vote in all meetings as a member state,” she said, adding that the affront was akin to a “coup inside Mercosur.”
Since Venezuela joined the bloc in 2012, the country has complied with 95 percent of the regulations set by the organization, according to Rodriguez. The other member states have barely fulfilled 75 percent of the same norms, she added.
As right-wing governments have slithered into power in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, the participation of Socialist Venezuela has been hindered time and time again, with this being the latest aggression.
Back in August, the Alliance also blocked Uruguay from transferring the rotating presidency of the trading bloc to Venezuela, which has traditionally been done in alphabetical order. Speaking on the matter, Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said his Brazilian counterpart had even gone as far as offering Uruguay trade deals in exchange for its support in blocking Venezuela from assuming the presidency.
The Triple Alliance is “bypassing the legal (guidelines), which is this book that I have here, which contains the normative framework, and are reaching for reasons that are not in here, to skip, erode and bully Venezuela’s presidency. That is the simple truth,” Novoa said during a Mercosur meeting, cited by El Pais.
Uruguayan officials have furthermore attempted to maintain order amid the rising tension, arguing in a statement that the country “strictly followed the norms to transfer the rotating presidency of Mercosur, which belongs to Venezuela.”
Mercosur is South America’s sub-regional bloc and was founded in order to promote free trade and the movement of peoples and goods within the region.
As the region shifted leftward, so did Mercosur and the bloc came to play an important role in strengthening regional political and cultural integration. But the right-wing governments in the bloc have tried to once again reorient the bloc toward neoliberalism and free trade.
Mercosur is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela as full members as well as five associate members, which are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Suriname.