South American trading bloc Mercosur has suspended Paraguay’s membership in the organization while approving Venezuela as a new member, Mexican media reported.
Presidents of Mercosur member-countries gathered on Friday in Mendoza, Argentina, for an emergency summit following the recent impeachment of Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo by the country’s parliament.
Mercosur leaders voted to suspend Paraguay’s membership until presidential elections in the country in April 2013, but decided against imposing economic sanctions on one of Latin America’s poorest nations as Paraguay’s economy heavily depends on trade with other Mercosur members.
Mercosur, which comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay as full members, and Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as associate members, earlier condemned Lugo’s ouster and barred Paraguay’s interim president Federico Franco, whose party supported the impeachment, from attending the summit.
At the summit, the leaders of the bloc approved Venezuela as a new full member starting July 31.
Caracas had been trying to get the full membership for six years, but the move had been blocked by Paraguayan lawmakers despite Lugo’s support of Venezuela’s aspirations.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez said in an interview with Telesur television network on Friday that the country's full membership in Mercosur would have a powerful “political, geopolitical, and social” impact as it meant “a defeat for imperialism and Paraguayan bourgeoisie.”