Several leaders across the Argentine political spectrum came out to harshly criticize the decision made by the Venezuelan Supreme Court to effectively takeover all legislative authority from the country’s National Assembly — the governing entity composed of elected officials. Most argued that this represents a break in the democratic order but some directly called it a “coup” by the Nicolás Maduro regime which appears to be trying to centralize political power as much as possible.
President Mauricio Macri met yesterday with Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López, and in a press release that followed called for the “re-composition of the democratic order in Venezuela.” He also “insisted on the need to follow an electoral calendar and the release of all political prisoners.”
Buenos Aires Province Governor, María Eugenia Vidal, along with leader of the Justicialist Party (PJ) in the Chamber of Deputies Diego Bossio issued opinions following the same lines. The leader of the Renewal Front (FR) and the co-founder of the Cambiemos Coalition Elisa “Lilita” Carrió went further and, same as the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro did yesterday, called it a “coup.”
— María Eugenia Vidal (@mariuvidal) March 30, 2017
“In a such as sad day for Venezuela, all my solidarity for the Venezuelans and my support for @leopoldolopez and @liliantintori.”
La situación venezolana es de una gravedad institucional q remonta a momentos de ruptura democrática q creíamos superados en América Latina.
— Diego Bossio (@diegobossio) March 31, 2017
“The Venezuelan situation is of an institutional gravity that goes back to moments of democratic rupture that we thought left behind in Latin America.”
Frente al golpe de Estado en Venezuela invocamos la Carta Democrática. Debemos defender la democracia, pero sobre todo al pueblo venezolano.
— Sergio Massa (@SergioMassa) March 30, 2017
“Upon the coup d’etat in Venezuela we invoke the democratic clause. We must defend democracy, but above all, the Venezuelan people.”
En Venezuela hay un golpe de estado. Hay que dejar de tener actitudes tibias.
— Elisa Lilita Carrió (@elisacarrio) March 30, 2017
“There’s a coup in Venezuela. We must stop having lukewarm attitudes.”
Representatives from multiple international organizations announced that they have already called for emergency meetings to deal with the issue. In the same statement in which he said Venezuela was going through a coup, Luis Almagro called for a meeting of the OAS’s permanent council with the intention of invoking the democratic clause, which would expel the country from the organization.
“What we had warned about has unfortunately become a reality…these measures are the last strokes with which the regime suppresses the country’s national order and ends with democracy.”
“To stay quiet before a dictatorship is the lowest indignity in politics,” he added.
Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra also took to twitter to announce she will meet with her counterparts from the other members of the Mercosur trading bloc on Saturday and determine what steps to take upon “the grave institutional situation” the country is going through.
Por la grave situación institucional de Venezuela, mañana nos reuniremos en Buenos Aires los cancilleres de los Estados Partes del Mercosur.
— Susana Malcorra (@SusanaMalcorra) March 31, 2017
Even before yesterday’s events, the relationship between the representatives of the Venezuelan government and the other Mercosur members — Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina — was hanging on by a thread, since they suspended the country’s rights as member of the Mercosur.
The decision came as a result of Venezuela’s failure to meet the last deadline it had for complying with the Mercosur’s requirements to put the trade bloc’s “charter in full effect” — a crucial step in becoming a full member.
Venezuela should have held the bloc’s presidency between July and December, but Brazil and Paraguay prevented that from happening, arguing the severe political, economic and social crisis the country is going through made it unfit to assume the leadership role.
Argentina is Mercosur’s current leading member — the presidency rotates every six months in alphabetical order — and will play an important role in deciding what measures to take. The Macri administration has always been critical of its counterpart and accused it of committing human rights violations multiple times.
Faithful to their aggressive style, representatives of the Venezuelan government such as President Maduro himself and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez retaliated by making claims that Macri won the elections by manipulating the Argentine people and sometimes by directly insulting him.
The upcoming days will be key for Venezuela’s institutional future, as leaders of the opposed political factions have called their supporters to take the streets. National Assembly President, Julio Borges, called people to protest next Saturday to demand elections be called.
On the Maduro regime’s side, Deputy Diosdado Cabello sent a more belligerent message to his followers: “Let’s get ready to defend the country, to even defend these people from the opposition who have gone crazy and are calling for the Venezuelan army to intervene, for the OAS to intervene,’ he said during a rally. “Whoever betrays our motherland in case of conflict must be treated as an enemy,” he argued.