Argentina and Chile agreed to organize a major Mercosur, Pacific Alliance trade blocks' meeting during the first half of 2017. Last Friday Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and her cabinet were in Buenos Aires with peers Mauricio Macri and ministers as part of an agenda of regular meetings to address a joint agenda.
If Venezuela's intention was to spoil Argentina's ceremony as the new holder of Mercosur pro tempore chair for the next six months, they certainly managed. A low key event at foreign ministers level, instead of a presidential summit, was briefly interrupted by the uninvited attendance of Venezuelan foreign minister 'Delcy Rodríguez' who turned up in Buenos Aires to protest what Caracas considers a Mercosur confabulation against Venezuela, suspended from the block since last 2 December.
In what is turning into a Caribbean soap opera, Venezuela's foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez, with Bolivia's David Choquehuenca, on Wednesday morning turned up at Argentina's foreign ministry pretending to participate in an extraordinary Mercosur council meeting, to which she had not been invited since Venezuela is officially suspended from the group.
The government of President Nicolas Maduro government closed the border with Brazil for 72 hours for the same reason it had taken the same measure with Colombia: money smuggling, Brazilian local authorities and residents of southern Venezuela who routinely cross to Brazil where they can make transactions in bolivars confirmed.
On the eve of Argentina becoming the next chair of Mercosur, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro revealed he held an hour long video conference with his Uruguayan peer Tabare Vazquez and they both agreed in building a path to channel the current conflict, which has Venezuela suspended from the group, but is rejected point blank by Caracas.
Argentina's priority as chair of Mercosur which it will officially take over this week will be to advance negotiations with the European Union for a wide ranging trade agreement which will not include Venezuela, anticipated foreign minister Susana Malcorra .
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a US$40 million loan that will allow for bidding to begin for the Agua Negra tunnel, which will connect San Juan province in Argentina with that of Coquimbo in Chile. The tunnel is key to improving trade integration between the two countries and the rest of Mercosur through a new corridor that will connect the Atlantic and the Pacific from Porto Alegre, Brazil, west to Coquimbo, Chile.
During a commemorative assembly marking the fourth anniversary of the day the late Hugo Chavez picked him as his successor, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called for a powerful civilian and military mobilization next December 17 to make a anti-coup test in view of the alleged threats from imperialism and national oligarchy.
Brazil and Argentina foreign ministers agreed on Thursday in Brasilia that Mercosur must open to the world and expand its trade horizons, but it will have to be done without Venezuela which has been currently ceased from the block. Jose Serra and Susana Malcorra coincided that Mercosur must speed the trade agreement with the European Union taking advantage of the fact US elected-president Donald Trump has pledged to limit such treaties.
The founding Mercosur countries Friday suspended Venezuela from full membership of the free-trade bloc in view of its failure to adjust its domestic regulations to economic agreements and human rights and immigration guidelines and principles that are mandatory to all the other members.