Venezuela dismisses Mercosur threat of suspension

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Caracas (AFP)

Venezuela on Wednesday dismissed a suspension threat from Mercosur for failing to meet the membership requirements of the South American trading bloc.

Venezuela, struggling with an economic crisis, said it would not recognize the decision by Mercosur founders -- Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay -- that would prevent it from exercising its current presidency of the bloc.

"Venezuela, in the full exercise of the rotating Mercosur presidency, and in accord with the treaties, rejects the declaration," Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez tweeted on her Twitter account.

Hours earlier Brazil released a joint statement by the four Mercosur founding members that Venezuela would be suspended if the government of President Nicolas Maduro did not fulfill the agreements of the group by December 1.

Venezuela, which assumed the Mercosur presidency in July, joined the trading bloc in 2012 but still has not ratified a large number of rules regarding trade, politics, democracy and human rights.

The crisis comes at a delicate moment for Mercosur, which has relaunched free-trade negotiations with the European Union.

Venezuela's foreign minister pointed out that in the regional trading bloc, "decisions are adopted by consensus and respect procedural norms."

"We will not allow violations of the treaty," Rodriguez insisted.