Published On: Mon, Dec 5th, 2016

Venezuela expelled from Mercosur

delsey_rodriguez4BRASÍLIA - South American sub-regional economic bloc Mercosur on Friday expelled Venezuela, effective immediately, for violating the grouping’s democratic principles and trade bylaws. It will now be required to renegotiate its membership if it wishes to rejoin.

Mercosur was created as a customs union in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela became the group’s fifth member in 2012. Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname are associate members.

The purpose of the bloc is to promote free trade and the ease of movement of goods, people, and currency. It is currently seeking to sign a free trade deal with the European Union.

“It is hard to get trade deals when you have a member who is against trade,” said a senior Brazilian diplomat who participated in the Mercosur talks with Venezuela.

“Without Venezuela, Mercosur is much better,” the diplomat said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez described Friday's expulsion as a coup attempt.

She rejected the notion that Venezuela had failed to conform to the trade group's rules, saying it has been unfairly targeted by right-wing regional leaders.

In September, Mercosur issued a three-month deadline for President Nicolas Maduro to restore human rights and press freedoms in Venezuela, which is mired in a political and economic crisis.

Hundreds of opposition activists have been arrested in Venezuela in recent years and opposition media stifled.

Brazil and Argentina led a recent effort to block Venezuela from taking its turn as the trade group’s rotating leadership. Argentina is now slated to take the bloc’s six-month presidency.

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