After failing to fulfill membership requirements such as respect for human rights, economic agreements, migration and freedom of the press, Venezuela has officially been suspended from the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). This has had an explosive effect on the already hostile rhetoric of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has rejected the decision and claimed that Venezuela will not be suspended from the Mercosur and will exercise its presidency, despite the vetoes of founding members Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
Maduro’s declarations have such a blatant inflammatory nature that they could almost result amusing. In August of 2016 through his TV show “En contacto con Maduro”, the President of Venezuela heavily borrowed some World War I jargon and declared war against the “Triple Alliance”, what he calls the right-wing oriented governments of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
“We are being chased by the Triple Alliance. The Triple Alliance of the tortures of South America is now chasing us. The Paraguayan oligarchy, corrupt and drug-dealing… We are now being chased by the emaciated Macri of Argentina, a loser, hated by his people… And we are now being chased by the dictatorship imposed in Brazil.”
The only founding member which did not receive aggressions was the center-left President of Uruguay Tabaré Vázquez. Uruguay is the only member that abstained while voting for Venezuela’s suspension and has shown the most predisposition towards establishing a dialogue with Caracas. Maduro publicly thanked the government of Uruguay for its “moral strength” and attacked the “coup-originated” government of Brazil for trying to pressure Uruguay to join the alliance.
“The coup-originated government of Brazil, like said in headlines, tried vainly and illegally to pressure the government of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, of President Tabaré Vázquez, to join the Triple Alliance and exclude Venezuela from the presidency of the Mercosur.”
Despite President Maduro’s remarks, Venezuela has been suspended since December 1 of 2016 and has no voice or vote within the South American bloc. It is possible for the Mercosur to grant Venezuela an extension to meet normative requirements and avoid permanent exclusion but if Maduro continues verbal hostilities this scenario seems unlikely.
In his radio show “La Hora de la Salsa,” Maduro called the Latin American peoples to “mobilize in defense” of the Mercosur “whose principles and statues are being threatened by right-wing governments that promote a destabilizing agenda against Venezuela.”
It is an extremely difficult situation for the Mercosur, whose internal dynamics have been explosive due to the divisiveness of its members. A bloc meant for cooperation and economic prosperity has been impacted by political indoctrination and the unevenness of national standards between the member states. Evidence of this are Maduro’s remarks in national TV:
“We will fight to save the Mercosur from the claws of the right: foolish, neoliberal, capitalist, wild, coup-originated (…) Venezuela declares itself in battle to save Mercosur from the coup-originated ultra-right Triple Alliance that pretends to destroy it from within”
The future of the Mercosur is full of uncertainty, in which powerful and opposing forces struggle for moral and political power. Although Venezuela might have been officially suspended, this is still a measure its national government denies and seems unwilling to accept any time soon. In times of national socio-economic chaos, the president’s charisma, hot-tempered rhetoric and unyielding diplomacy might be the last resorts to ensure the current government’s survival. We are yet to discover the extent to which the rise of extremism in Venezuela will affect the future of the Mercosur, what is undisputable is the fact it will not be a smooth development.
“No one will be able to take Venezuela out of the Mercosur. (…) If they throw us out through the door, we will enter through the window.” – President Nicolás Maduro in “La Hora de la Salsa.”