Mercosur, the trade agreement slash economic union slash dysfunctional family that Venezuela belongs to, is going through some unlikely drama as of late.

The body’s presidency -which supposedly rotates among its members by alphabetical order every six months- should go to Venezuela now. In fact, the Wikipedia page erroneously says Venezuela already got it. But Mercosur’s main players want none of this, and they are fighting to prevent Venezuela from taking over.

Curiously, the fight over a bureaucratic appointment in a body that ceased to be relevant a while ago has become la propia telenovela.

At first glance, the story seems unimportant. It has a strong whiff of two drunks fighting over an empty liquor bottle. After all, everyone knows the Alliance of the Pacific is the in kid when it comes to regional trade agreements – so much so that countries in the Atlantic are lining up to join it, minimizing the fact that the bloc’s name actually puts a geographical precondition on the matter.

Mercosur matters little these days, so why are countries fighting about it? Well, scratch beneath the surface and the unvarnished truth of Venezuela’s deep diplomatic isolation in the region emerges.

The main concern in Mercosur is that Maduro, as the head of of the group for the next six months, will convene a summit of heads of state to show he is not isolated. This would force the Presidents to take a picture with him, and perhaps <ugh> travel to Caracas for a summit. Guácala.

More importantly, Maduro at the helm could significantly affect the current negotiations between the block and the European Union -negotiations of which Venezuela isn’t even a part, but can influence through its leadership in the bloc.

According to El País, the only country openly supporting Venezuela is Uruguay. Paraguay, long a foe of Maduro’s, is vehemently opposed to being led by him. Brazil and Argentina, the main players in Mercosur, are also opposed, albeit in a more tempered way.

This position marks a shift in the Argentine strategy. When we last wrote about this, Argentina was trying to stave off any criticism of Venezuela to gain our country’s support for the candidacy of Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra for the UN’s top job. But in spite of a well-orchestrated campaign -note, for example, this fawning piece in Foreign Policy on Malcorra’s record- it seems this position has fizzled out.

Not only has Argentine President Mauricio Macri harshly criticized the Venezuelan government in recent days, but Malcorra now has a tough contender in the region in Costa Rican Christiana Figueres -the UN’s former point person for climate change, and a darling of the international press.

As for Brazil, the story intertwines with the country’s ongoing political saga. Interim Foreign Minister José Serra has been accused by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister of being the top diplomat of a dictatorship. Serra, meanwhile, understands that any radical move regarding Mercosur by an interim government will be seen as flimsy, so he wants the decision postponed until the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff is solved.

Currently, sources say that Rousseff’s impeachment is very likely to pass, thereby closing the door on her chances of returning to Brazil’s Presidency. This would empower Serra, and would embolden Brazil’s seemingly anti-Maduro position.

As this drama unfolds, we should be clear on one thing: Venezuela is perfectly entitled to hold the stewardship of Mercosur. Rules are rules, and it’s Maduro’s turn. If they are so concerned with Venezuela leading, they should have suspended her a while ago.

But the mere fact that Venezuela has to put up a fight to exercise her rights goes to show how untouchable we have become. Say what you might about Delcy Rodríguez, but her job…is downright impossible.

Hugo Chávez used to love to go to summits. He was the gem of the press, his comrades would laugh at his jokes, and everyone had a ball.

But Maduro? He’s become “him”…as in, “oh, they invited him…?” As Venezuela sinks deeper into despair, the region’s contempt towards the regime seems to have finally boiled over.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I spent a few minutes considering if the Venezuelan Opposition has a dog in that fight. At the end I concluded that these are the same countries that have been mostly equivocal in condemning the repression and anti-democratic abuses of the regime. So, fine. Now they can deal with Maduro like we have to. Chupalo.

  2. OK, Venezuela is going ‘a paso de vencedores’ to become a pariah state. This will certainly be embarrassing for normal governments, but come on! Delcy y su combo have no shame whatsoever.

    So at some point they will straight out deny the referendum and any other election for that matter and draw the democratic charter and then what? It seems like a pyrrhic victory. Venezuela will just retreat to its isolation as all dictatorship do (think North Korea, or Zimbabwe or Cuba to a certain degree) and that will be that.

    So I guess it comes down to a ‘cuartelzo’ perhaps triggered by the formal declaration of the Democratic Charter or alternatively a complete collapse of the economy with famine and all caused by the closing of the international bank system due to a credit event.

    These guys will not let go until the country is left in ruble. With all the distinctions between the Third Reich and Chavismo, as a political history there is incredible parity.

    Que tristeza.

  3. What a freaking circus. Mercosur is a joke. In reality trade agreements in Latin America are all about cash, profits, bribes, obscure deals under the table.

    Uruguay is a shame. They signed many shady deals with Venezuela years ago, oil for food, local projects.. (google it up). Macri should get even tougher against Chavismo.

    Delcy is another shame. A clown with no education and no intelligence whatsoever. As corrupt as they get as all Chavistas, probably a multi-millionaire by now. It’s all about false images, false prestige, propaganda, as this article well describes.

    But it’s also about pretending to be “democratic”, part of the world community. When Chavismo remains a disguised Dictatorship, authoritarian regime backed up by the putrid military. They want to keep their fake facade as a “socialist” average government, while they keep oppressing, and above all stealing all they can.

  4. It’s important to note that Venezuela cheated to get into the Mercosur, yes, cheated, because one of the most important, obligatory conditions to be part of it was that the population would have FREE ACCESS to foreign currency (aka NO CADIVI nor any of its variants), and that’s when Giordani the king of the fried rubbish came up with the “brilliant” idea of the “accounts with foreign currency” and another of the useless nicknames for the useless cadivi, which is the monopoly that bans the people from getting access to currency.

    Yet they were allowed in, because you know, petrodollars.

  5. I think one of the false representations of Delcy is that she is a legitimate player in foreign affairs who is simply following a doomed, faux revolutionary agenda with all the silly rhetoric and blustering. In fact anyone who has listened to her feckless rants and intemperate spew at international forums recognizes a rank amateur who is vastly overmatched by everyone around her. The woman simply has no game whatsoever. Now, finally, no one takes her seriously at all. Nor anyone else in Maduro’s freak show. They have become strictly hands off to anyone who values their credibility.

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