Photo via Panorama

The diplomatic tensions brewing throughout the year between Venezuela and the rest of the trading bloc Mercosur’s members is reaching a breaking point. On Thursday night its four founding members — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — informed Venezuela through a means of an “official communication” that its rights as a member had been suspended.

A few hours later, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez took to Twitter to challenge the decision, saying her country “will legitimately continue exercising the Mercosur’s presidency.” Going further, she informed the international community that her country activated the bloc’s mechanism to solve disputes due to the “aggression and harassment” it had been suffering.

The founding member’s decision is officially based on the fact that Venezuela has not met the last deadline it had for complying with the Mercosur’s requirements to put the trade bloc’s “charter in full effect” in order to become a full member, according to a bloc source who preferred to remain in anonymity told different outlets.

Venezuela theoretically should be serving as the bloc’s leading member since July, but Brazil and Paraguay prevented that from happening, arguing the political, economic and social crisis the country is going through makes it unfit to assume the leadership role.

The already tense relationship between Nicolás Maduro’s administration and their new, center-right leaning counterparts that took office in other Latin American countries (like Argentina and Brazil) during the past year continued heating up until in September when the four founding members decided to jointly take the control of the trading bloc.

Unsurprisingly, Venezuela didn’t recognize the decision and announced that it would continue rightfully exercising the leadership role in accordance to the bloc’s rulebook, which establishes the baton rotates every semester in alphabetical order.

Delcy Rodríguez responded with defiance “We inform that, as of today, the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela, with the army’s support, will begin exercising the presidency as established by the Asunción Treaty [Mercosur’s founding document].”

Nonetheless, the other members had given the Maduro administration an ultimatum to adapt its internal laws to comply with requirements such as the free movement of goods from other bloc countries. The deadline was December 1st and, since this didn’t happen, its rights were suspended. However, there is still a chance the Bolivarian country will be granted another extension to adjust its legislation in an attempt to not kick it out.

It didn’t take long for Venezuela to come out to challenge this decision as well. As mentioned before, Delcy Rodríguez informed that Venezuela would activate a mechanism to solve controversies — i.e a sort of diplomatic mediation — due to what in the country’s criteria is an “aggression and harassment against its presidency in the organization.” The bloc’s legislative body, Parlasur, which still hasn’t officially began to operate and meets once a month in its headquarters in Montevideo, has approved the procedure, Telesur reported.

But that wasn’t it. Rodríguez then took to Twitter saying Venezuela didn’t recognize the actions of the other countries and would continue exercising the leading role in Mercosur. However, within the same train of statements she claimed the information regarding the suspension was false Leaving many confused by explicitly mixed messages.

A public press release announcing the expulsion of Venezuela from Mercosur is expected within the next hours. What’s still uncertain is how Venezuela would proceed should official conversations fail.

Mercosur is a regional trade bloc established in 1991 comprising member states Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. It focuses mainly on developing economic measures aimed at promoting free trade and market union.