By Chris Mazzacane, International News Writer
On December 2, the Southern Common Market, commonly known as MERCOSUR, suspended Venezuela’s membership citing the country’s failure to comply with the organization’s democratic principles as the primary reason for its decision. Venezuela is in the midst of a complete economic collapse, with this most recent decision pushing the struggling state closer to ruin.
Since Socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s ascent to the presidency, human rights—specifically freedom of the press—has been under threat. According to Al Jazeera, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the founding members of the regional trading bloc, issued an ultimatum to Maduro calling on him to restore basic human rights across the country or face expulsion from the organization and further isolation in the region.
The decision comes at a trying time for Venezuela. Despite large oil reserves, the country’s economy is ruins. Inflation is at an all-time high forcing citizens to carry wheelbarrows full of Bolivars, the Venezuelan currency, just to buy staple items. Legislators have even approved the creation of a 5,000 bolivar note so consumers can carry less money with them.
Suspension from MERCOSUR is not unprecedented. In the summer of 2012, the bloc suspended Paraguay after the nation’s senate arbitrarily impeached the democratically elected president.
Venezuela’s reintegration into the bloc will be a major challenge moving forward. Since the suspension, Maduro has done nothing to ease the restrictions on journalists. Furthermore, public officials from the remaining MERCOSUR members have continued to denounce the embattled country. According to Bloomberg, Brazilian diplomat and head of the International Relations Research Institute, Paulo Roberto de Almeida, stated, “Venezuela never should have been allowed to join.” Now that Venezuela is out, it seems that the likelihood of reintegration is slim.
The decision will surely have lasting repercussions in the region and beyond. With little help from its neighbors, Venezuela’s economic situation is likely to worsen. On the other hand, in the midst of ongoing talks regarding a trade deal with the European Union, the remaining MERCOSUR countries are poised to become more globally integrated.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 10th print edition.
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