Venezuela foreign minister tries to crash Mercosur meeting
BUENOS AIRES - Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez tried to gatecrash a Mercosur meeting in Buenos Aires on Wedneday. Rodriguez had not been invited to the meeting because Venezuela has been expelled from the regional trade bloc.
Nevertheless, she turned up at the Argentine foreign ministry and brushed past security guards only to find the room where it was meant to be held, empty, the BBC reported.
She accused guards of "attacking" her; however, a recording shows her arguing with an official at the gate of the foreign ministry and then brushing past security guards.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his foreign minister had been "gravely hurt". She had been "thrown to the ground", he said, and had "possibly broken a collar bone". Maduro said the incident happened "when the media was not present".
Rodriguez tweeted a picture of herself smiling broadly, sitting next to the foreign minister of Bolivia, a country that is a close ally of Venezuela and an associate member of Mercosur.
"We're in the Mercosur meeting waiting for the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay," she wrote.
Observers pointed out that she did not look visibly hurt in the photograph.
Meanwhile, other regional leaders held their talks in a smaller room and, as it became clear that the other foreign ministers were not going to show up, Rodriguez tweeted again, this time accusing Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay of colluding against Venezuela.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Serra also took to Twitter, posting a photograph of the meeting between him and Mercosur foreign ministers being held in another, smaller room.
In September, Mercosur issued a three-month deadline for Maduro to restore human rights and press freedoms in Venezuela, which is mired in a political and economic crisis.
Failure to do so resulted in Venezuela’s expulsion from the group earlier this month after Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay said it had failed to incorporate key rules on trade and human rights into national law. It will now be required to renegotiate its membership if it wishes to rejoin.
Venezuela says it has incorporated all the rules except those which conflict with its domestic legislation.
It has declared its expulsion "null and void", describing it as a coup attempt.
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.