Venezuela, Suspended from the Mercosur: a Symptom of Regional Disintegration

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By: Lucio Garriga Olmo / Soure: Marcha.org.ar / The Dawn News / December 7, 2016

Photo credit: TeleSUR
Photo credit: TeleSUR

The Bolivarian revolution, always attacked by other countries, has received its final blow in the Mercosur: the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay have informed Venezuela that it won’t be able to exercise its inherent rights as a member-country any more. That is, Venezuela has been suspended from the South American bloc.

The four countries that expelled Venezuela argue that Venezuela hasn’t complied with norms of the Mercosur on human rights, immigration and commercial agreements, such as the Economic Complementation Agreement No. 18 (ACE 18) which establishes a common external tariff and a trade liberalisation program.

But Article 1 of the Protocol of Adhesion of Venezuela, signed in 2012, establishes that Venezuela is exempt of applying specific norms of the bloc because they would conflict with its Constitution. And there’s no norm that mandates the expulsion of a full member for non-compliance in adopting the norms. That means the expulsion of the Chavist country is a violation of the norms itself. Furthermore, all member countries have violated some Mercosur norms. So why expel Venezuela?

The reason behind this is of a political nature, and its goal is twofold: on one hand, to align the region with the United States, which has a strong influence on the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. And, on the other hand, to eliminate an obstacle to move forwards in the plan to merge the Mercosur with the Pacific Alliance.

The expulsion of Venezuela had been planned for four years, since the moment Venezuela joined the bloc composed by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Of these countries, Bolivia remains the only ally of Venezuela in the Mercosur.

And Venezuela did try (and is still willing) to solve whatever problem there is regarding its permanence in the bloc. Last Tuesday, the Venezuelan Chancellor, Delcy Rodríguez, sent a note to all four chancellors of the opposing member countries proving that Venezuela is working to approve the ACE 18, but none of them answered.

So, despite it being true that Venezuela didn’t incorporate a set of rules, what should be mentioned is that it didn’t do so because they were contrary to its Constitution, that it has incorporated most of the norms of the bloc (approximately 90% of them), and that the countries that are pushing Venezuela out of the Mercosur also don’t comply with all of the norms.

The suspension was in itself carried out illegally. If any country violates any of the norms of the organism, the verdict must come from a third party acting as a mediator —not from the denouncing parties. What happened, instead, was that four countries denounced a violation, presented evidence and determined the sanctions. There was no arbitration to rule on it, nor a dialogue to solve the problem, nor negotiation between the parts. Those with more power imposed on the ones with less power. The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, denounced it publicly: “We have been trialed, declared guilty and sentenced without the right to a defense (…). They’ve acted in an unfair, disproportionate and illegal manner.”

The resistance

After the suspension, Venezuela announced it will activate the Olivos Protocol to solve this controversy, but it also has publicly denounced that it hasn’t been legally notified about the decision made by the rest of the members of the organism. Venezuela is resorting to dialogue, unlike the other countries.

Delcy Rodríguez affirmed: “Over the next few days, with due evidence, we will prove irregular actions. This situation is unheard of, and this violation of rules is unprecedented”. She added that “Venezuela hasn’t been notified in accordance with the rules of the Mercosur and therefore we can’t act as if we had been. What they want to do is nothing else than a coup. We maintain our position in strict compliance with the legality of the Mercosur system”.

Meanwhile, Maduro has requested a meeting with the President of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, to solve this problem, since the Uruguayan has declared that the measure is not “irreversible”.

Venezuela has denounced that the countries that denounce them are not exactly role models for democratic values. Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, arrived to power thanks to a Parliamentary Coup. Argentina’s Mauricio Macri has been recently told off by the UN and the OAS for having a political prisoner —social leader Milagro Sala. And Paraguay’s chancellor is a former conspirer of the Condor Operation.

What’s going on in Venezuela is another example of the dissolution of Latin America’s unity. On one hand, right-wing governments seek a new international position and break up the hard-earned regional integration. On the other hand, the countries that resist, like Venezuela and Bolivia, who were the spearheads of the union. What’s at stake is what sort of Mercosur model and what sort of regional integration we want for Latin America.

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