Unasur ‘democratic clause’ comes into force after ratification by
Uruguay and Colombia
Mercopress. March 21, 2014

Any country that suffers an interruption to its democratic order will
be automatically excluded from Unasur (Union of South American
Nations), the bloc announced this week, after its “democratic clause”
came into force and as Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed
that a US-funded campaign is trying to ouster him.

In a ceremony that took place in Quito, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister
Ricardo Patiño announced that Colombia became the tenth country to
ratify the clause. The ratification of nine member states was required
for the rule to come into force and Uruguay had already complied with
that pre-requisite a month ago, on February 18.

“Uruguay’s ratification could not be more timely. It comes as
Venezuela, a brother country, is suffering the attacks of an
opposition that believes that the path to political power is the use
of force and violence,” Patiño said.

“Anti-democratic attempts cannot be tolerated,” Patiño insisted and
said that “democracy and elections” are the only legitimate way to
reach power.

Brazil and Paraguay are the only two member-states that still need to
ratify the clause. The issue is a thorny one for Asunción, considering
that Paraguay was suspended from the bloc following President Fernando
Lugo’s removal in 2012 and was only readmitted after it held
presidential elections last year.

Unasur’s “democratic clause” had been verbally agreed on 26 November
2010 after a coup attempt against Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa
in September that year. The goal had been to allow member-states to
jointly respond to, and even prevent, coup attempts in the region,
then-Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez explained.

Patiño also reminded his audience that Unasur had agreed to send a
special delegation to Caracas “to accompany the Venezuelan government
in the dialogue that it’s seeking so that differences can be resolved
democratically and peacefully.”

He said that the mission will arrive in Venezuela “before the end of March.”

Caracas and other Venezuelan cities have been roiled by more than a
month of anti-government demonstrations. Student-led protests that
began in early February have drawn support from middle-class people
frustrated by inflation that reached an annualized rate of 56% last
month, soaring violent crime and shortages of basic items.