01/08/2016 – Leadership crisis in Mercosur

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The South American economic community Mercosur has fallen into a leadership crisis due to a conflict around socialist member country Venezuela. Since the end of Uruguay’s six-month temporary presidency was declared on July 29, there has been no country presiding the economic bloc. Following alphabetical order, Uruguay had passed its functions on to Venezuela. But Brazil and Paraguay reacted angrily to this step, and proposed a different interpretation of the founding treaty. The traditional handover of the presidency should have taken place on July 30 in the presence of all the foreign and economic ministers of Mercosur. However, since Brazil and Paraguay boycotted this meeting, Uruguay was forced to take unilateral action. Through their absence, Brazil and Paraguay sought to prevent Venezuela from taking over the presidency of Mercosur, on the grounds of serious doubts about democracy in the country. Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez, however, declared that the transfer of leadership would take place anyway, as there were no legal reasons to justify doing otherwise.