Following a leak from inside the Brazilian government yesterday that Venezuela’s suspension from MERCOSUR was imminent, the regional trade bloc made the move official today by sending the Venezuelan delegation a notice informing them of their suspension.
The notice was signed by the organization’s four members – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay – and informed the Venezuelan government that it would no longer be able to exercise its “inherent rights” as a member state of the trade bloc effective immediately.
Venezuela was suspended because of its inability to adhere to the Treaty of Ascension, the document which outlines the steps a country must take in order to join MERCOSUR. The organization said that Venezuela repeated on a number of occassions that it was unable to meet some of the Treaty’s requirements due to the fact that they contradicted the country’s judicial norms.
Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez called the suspension “a coup d’etat“. The Venezuelan government’s strategy in face of the suspension appears to be to simply ignore it.
Yesterday, Rodriguez spoke after the news broke that Venezuela would in fact be suspended from MERCOSUR, saying:
Venezuela does not recognize this hostile act that is based on the law of the jungle by some officials who are destroying MERCOSUR.
Rodriguez also said that Venezuela would continue to attend the organization’s meetings and exercise its right to vote, saying:
Venezuela will continue to exercise its legitimate presidency and will participate with the right to vote in all the meetings as a member state.
Rodriguez: Political Prisoner Release A Fantasy
Speaking on the topic of political prisoners in Venezuela, Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez dismissed the idea that some or all of the Maduro government’s prisoners could be released as part of the wavering dialogue efforts between the opposition and the PSUV.
Rodriguez explained that the oppositions’s demands that the government release the approximately 109 political prisoners it has incarcerated over the years for anti-government activities were a fantasy, saying:
The dialogue table does not have jurisdictional powers. I does not have supra-national powers. It does not have supra-constitutional powers. As I understand it, what the opposition is talking about [when it comes to freeing the political prisoners] is absolutely a product of their imagination.
On Wednesday, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) issued a press release in which it threatened to walk away from the talks with the government unless the government released political prisoners before the next round of talks, which is scheduled to take place on December 6.
Chaos as Point-of-Sale Terminals Fail Nationwide
Point-of-sale terminals nationwide suffered a major outage today, leaving Venezuelans who are increasingly moving away from carrying cash with them unable to complete purchases for much of the day today.
In Venezuela, debit and credit card terminals are operated by a company called Creditcard. At 3:50 PM local time, the company issued a statement saying that it was working towards solving the issue. The problem had been resolved by 7:30 PM local time.
Runaway inflation and a collapsing economic have made the Venezuelan Bolivar nearly worthless. The highest denomination bill, Bs. 100, is worth approximately 2 US cents at the current black market rate. The low value of the bills means that Venezuelans must choose between carrying around huge, unwieldy stacks of cash with them to make even the smallest purchase, or instead rely on credit and debit cards.
SEBIN Raids Creditcard Offices
El Nacional reported late this evening that agents from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), Venezuela’s political police, raided the offices of Creditcard national offices in Chacaito, Caracas tonight on direct orders from Maduro.
Maduro announced the raid during a televised speech earlier tonight, in which he called today’s point-of-sale terminal outage “a financial coup d’etat“, and that he had been warned by an unnamed source that the event was being planned. Maduro said:
This [outage] had been announced. I had information that they were trying to do this. They were trying to leave the country without Creditcard.
Maduro did not provide any evidence for any of his claims, nor did he specify exactly who he thought was behind the outage or what their purpose was. Conspiracy theories involving a global conglomerate of enemies feature heavily in the Maduro administration’s narrative on the crisis the country is suffering through.
It is not yet clear what the SEBIN hopes to find in the company’s offices, or what action they make take.
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