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Tension rises as Venezuela's democratic deficit causes MERCOSUR political impasse
Friday 5 August 2016 09:08

The accession of Venezuela to the chairmanship of Mercosur has hit an impasse as Argentina’s liberals and the member countries of the Latin American regional trading bloc raise concerns over a lack of democratic credentials of the regime of President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. The organisation's ability to function has been stalemated at a time when important trade negotiations with Europe are taking place.

The crisis was set to be resolved in talks this weekend but today, Friday 5th August, Nicolás Maduro has said he will defy Mercosur members to “fully exercise the presidency.” In July, Uruguay officially ended its six-month chairmanship of Mercosur. The chair transfer to Venezuela, the next country in line, was scheduled to take place last Saturday during a formal meeting between representatives of the five countries. Nevertheless Nicolás Maduro announced that he is assuming the presidency, against the call from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to block this move. The three countries are questioning the democratic credentials of Maduro’s government, which repeatedly violated human rights and is currently attempting to neutralise the legislative body controlled by the opposition.

On Tuesday 2nd August, Dan Kucawca, Secretary of International and Institutional Relations, expressed on Tuesday the position of Union for Liberty (LI Observer Member):  “Facing the flagrant violation of Human Rights and the deterioration of democratic institutions, liberties and individual rights by the hand of the present government […] [w]e state that Venezuela fails to fulfil the commitments accepted on joining Mercosur, based on the Ushuaia Protocol on Democratic Commitment and further regulation. Until their attainment, Venezuela will not be in a position to represent the Common Market”.

This crisis comes at a crucial time for negotiations with the European Union for a trade and cooperation agreement and with the Pacific Alliance for a closer regional cooperation.

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