By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Despite being informed that a Venezuelan representative would not be able to attend the extraordinary meeting of the Mercosur Council, the country’s representative went to Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and tried forcefully to enter the gathering on Wednesday.
According to Venezuelan officials its country’s representative, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, was rudely barred from entering the room where the meeting was taking place.
“There is a coup d’état under way at Mercosur, and if they don’t allow us to come in through the door, we will come in through the window. We came to defend the dignity of our people,” a furious Rodriguez told a group of reporters outside the Foreign Ministry’s building.
Rodriguez, along with her Bolivian counterpart and ally, David Choquehanca, left the building without being able to meet with the other Mercosur ministers.
Minutes earlier, Brazil’s representative, Jose Serra, tweeted in his social media account “meeting with the chancellors of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in Buenos Aires for the XI Extraordinary Meeting of the Mercosur Council”.
After the meeting Brazil’s Foreign Ministry announced that the effective liberalization of intra-bloc trade as well as cooperation and facilitation of investments in the Mercosur region were discussed.
According to the Itamaraty, the founding members agreed that Argentina will assume the presidency of the bloc for the first half of 2017, and Brazil will take over during the second half of the year. In July Brazil had already blocked the transfer of the Mercosur Presidency to its South American neighbor.
Thousands of kilometers away, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced the ‘violence’ suffered by his minister, “Today, our chancellor, Delcy Rodríguez Gómez, was attacked by the Argentine government police,” said Maduro during a press conference in Havana, Cuba. “Nothing or nobody will makes us leave Mercosur because Mercosur belongs to the people,” added the official.
At the beginning of December the four Mercosur founding countries (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina announced that they are suspending Venezuela from the trade bloc, for ‘failure to fulfill its membership obligations’ including economic and human rights agreements.
Mercosur was founded in 1991 and accepted Venezuela as a member in 2012. In addition to the four founding members, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname are associate countries of the regional trade bloc.