Mercosur launched on Saturday a demand to apply a democratic clause to Venezuela in an emergency meeting in Buenos Aires. The demand, if not complied with, could lead to the country’s expulsion from the regional trade agreement. Currently, the trade agreement includes Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
The demand follows the decision of Venezuela’s Supreme court to claim sovereignty over the Parliament, where the opposition has held majority since 2016. The justices claimed that the current Parliament did not hold legitimate power after inaugurating three members whose elections were challenged the previous year. However, Venezuela’s own General Prosecutor declared the judiciary’s move unconstitutional. Even President Maduro denied knowing anything about the judiciary takeover. The Supreme Court then returned the Parliament’s powers and immunity to its members.
Despite the quick return to a separation of three powers, Mercosur wasn’t letting Venezuela’s slip go by so easily. The regional countries stated in their demand that there remains “a rupture from democratic order in Venezuela”. Indeed, the Argentinian chancellor Susana Malcorra explained that the Venezuelan judiciary continues to reject legislative proposals.
Venezuela was the last country to sign onto the Mercosur trade agreement. In fact, the country already faced suspension for not complying with the agreement regulations. This time, Venezuela faces expulsion due to its violation of human rights and democracy.
The country bloc demands a number of democratic measures: open elections for governor, city mayors (for this year), and for president (in 2018). Finally, Venezuela must liberate its political prisoners, held from the opposition. If Venezuela complies with these measures, it will not face expulsion from the trade agreement.