(Photo: Ariana Cubillos – AP)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to South America this week was described as aimed at attending the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Río de Janeiro, but it provides him with an excellent opportunity to discuss the escalating crisis in Venezuela with some of the region’s key leaders.
Judging from what I’m hearing from his aides, Kerry will do much more than watch the fireworks in Río. He will meet with several leaders there, and is also visiting Argentina and Paraguay before returning to Washington. A senior U.S. official told me, “Venezuela will certainly be on the agenda.”
Coincidentally, or not, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil were the countries that — in that order — announced last week that they objected to Venezuela taking over the rotating presidency of South America’s Mercosur economic bloc, citing Venezuela’s failure to comply with the group’s democratic principles.
Venezuela had been scheduled to take over the rotating six-month presidency of Mercosur — which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela — on July 30. Venezuela’s demotion — even after it had unilaterally proclaimed itself as Mercosur’s new president — was one of that country’s most embarrassing diplomatic defeats in recent memory.
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