Suspended Venezuela tries to crash South American trade bloc talks

December 16, 2016

December,  14 2016 (Reuters)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his foreign minister was “thrown to the ground” by Argentine authorities on Wednesday after attempting to crash a Mercosur trade bloc meeting in Buenos Aires, following Venezuela’s suspension from the group earlier this month.

In dramatic video shot outside Argentina’s Foreign Ministry, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez is seen jostling with security to try to get into the meeting, though Maduro presented no evidence she was thrown to the ground.

“She was gravely hurt and possibly has a fractured collarbone,” Maduro said on Wednesday evening during a speech in Cuba.

OPEC member Venezuela was expelled from Mercosur this month in part due to concerns about the government’s human rights record.

Maduro’s socialist government, which has lost allies in the region as various countries including Argentina have moved to the right, says its suspension from the bloc is an unjustified and illegal “coup.”

“If they close the door to us we will, as our President Maduro has said, go through the window,” Rodriguez told reporters outside the ministry. “Venezuela does not need an invitation because it is for the time being president of Mercosur.”

Critics of the government in Venezuela lambasted Rodriguez as an embarrassment to the country.

The pugnacious foreign minister was later allowed into the ministry building to meet with Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra. Rodriguez stayed for about an hour before exiting without gaining access to the Mercosur session.

Malcorra later told reporters that she had made it clear to Rodriguez that while she was welcome to meet one-on-one with her at the ministry, Venezuela was not invited to the Mercosur conference.

“No one ever gets into a multilateral meeting without authorization. The minister obviously felt she had the right to attend, but she had been told explicitly, verbally and in writing that she was not invited,” Malcorra said.