Following yesterday’s congressional elections in Venezuela, which saw the opposition land a sweeping victory against President Nicolás Maduro’s government, future Foreign Minister Susanna Malcorra has said she sees no need to seek to bar Venezuela from Mercosur, as President-elect Mauricio Macri had pledged.
“Nothing indicates we ought to apply the democratic clause. The elections were carried out in a democratic matter,” she told Radio Mitre.
Throughout his campaign and following his November 22nd electoral victory, President-elect Mauricio Macri maintained he would attempt to bar Venezuela from the South American trading block for human rights violations under President Nicolás Maduro by calling onto the “democratic clause.”
As The Bubble’s Valentina explained in a recent article, the democratic clause allows Mercosur members to suspend or sanction a member state if it experiences a “breakdown of democracy.” It was first introduced in 1998 and updated in 2011 to allow more severe punishments to be enacted, including closing frontiers, limiting air traffic and cutting communications or energy supplies.
Venezuela has been under international scrutiny for its government’s repression of protests in 2014 as well as the jailing of members of the opposition. It is currently on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (CIDH) black list.
Macri celebrated his runoff victory with Lilian Tintori, Venezuelan activist and wife of jailed activist Leopoldo López, by his side.
The opposition, represented by the Democratic Union coalition, now holds 99 seats in the 167-member congress while Maduro’s United Socialist Party must contend with 46 seats. (The 22 remaining seats are still contested). This is the first time in 17 years that the opposition controls the National Assembly.
These latest developments bode well for Macri’s plans to “revitalize” the Mercosur trading bloc (made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela), merge it with the Pacific Alliance (Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico) and strike a free trade deal with the European Union.