If Venezuela’s intention was to spoil Argentina’s ceremony as the new holder of Mercosur pro tempore chair for the next six months, they certainly managed. A low key event at foreign ministers level, instead of a presidential summit, was briefly interrupted by the uninvited attendance of Venezuelan foreign minister ‘Delcy Rodríguez’ who turned up in Buenos Aires to protest what Caracas considers a Mercosur confabulation against Venezuela, suspended from the block since last 2 December.
In a conference press Argentine foreign minister Susana Malcorra emphasized there “was no confabulation” from the four founding members of Mercosur against Venezuela, which was suspended from the group for not having complied, despite all the additional time extensions, with the adherence protocol to enjoy its condition as the fifth full member of the group.
“There is no such confabulation, there is a decision to allow Venezuela the right to defense” since “you can’t be a member of an organization with all its privileges without complying with contractual obligations”, argued Malcorra.
The Argentine minister revealed that before the Mercosur chair-taking ceremony with its peers from founding members, (Jose Serra, Brazil; Eladio Loizaga, Paraguay and Uruguay’s Nin Novoa), she met for over an hour with Venezuela’s Rodriguez who expected to participate in the meeting.
“We explained to the minister that there was no invitation extended to her country to attend” the XIth Extraordinary meeting of the Mercosur Council, while Rodriguez made it plain clear that “Venezuela rejected the arguments of the decision suspending” her country.
Malcorra and Rodriguez were later joined by Uruguay’s Nin Novoa and Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca who arrived in Buenos Aires with the Venezuelan minister early dawn Wednesday.
“It was an open frank dialogue with notorious interpretation differences” admitted Malcorra while Rodriguez said she was demanding respect for Venezuela and for her ‘as a woman’, and “this event today has the purpose of excluding the Venezuelan development model”.
Later in the day the Venezuelan embassy in Buenos Aires released a video showing Rodriguez pushing and shoving her way into the foreign ministry building, while ex president Cristina Fernandez and Bolivarian revolution militants supporters backed her and antiriot police tried to impose some order.
“Despite the fact these presidents don’t want Venezuela to participate, well we will go in through the window because we’ve come here to defend the rights of Venezuela and also the rights of Mercosur”, Rodriguez was recorded on the video.
On Wednesday afternoon the Venezuelan minister met with a pro Bolivarian foundation in Buenos Aires and was pictured with a plastered arm supposedly because she was beaten by a policeman during the morning’s shoving, according to the Venezuelan embassy.
Nevertheless Malcorra was optimistic about Venezuela’s return to Mercosur, once it complies with all basic commitments particularly on trade and human rights.
”Tomorrow (Thursday) in Montevideo Venezuela will begin to implement the mechanism to solve controversies contemplated in the Olivos Protocol“, said Macorra, who despite admitting the ”enormous differences between Venezuela and Mercosur founding members, I’m optimistic“.
When Venezuela finally joined Mercosur as full member in 2012, the rest of Mercosur was ruled by supposedly ”progressive“ governments, however this has drastically changed probably with the sole exception of Uruguay. Brazil and Argentina, senior members of Mercosur are ruled by clearly conservative governments who condemn Venezuela for its feeble democracy and violation of human rights.
Paraguay’s minister Loizaga acting as spokesperson for the group had repeatedly insisted during the week that Venezuela had been suspended and had not invited to the Wednesday ceremony in Buenos Aires. From Caracas, president Maduro claimed it was ”a coup“ against Venezuela and if ”they close the door on us, we will jump in through the window“.
Malcorra finally informed that Argentina has taken the pro tempore chair of Mercosur for the next six months and revealed that together with her peers it was decided to actively promote the block to other markets and conform integrated negotiation teams to jointly address the issues of Mercosur agenda.
”Our top priority is to move forward with current negotiations for a free trade accord with the EU, and to advance in other options with Japan, India, Canada, China and the US”.