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Bolsonaro: Venezuela should leave Mercosur

November 6, 2018

Brazil's president-elect has said Venezuela should no longer be a member of the South American trade bloc. Two months before he takes office, Jair Bolsonaro has outlined economic reforms including a pension overhaul.

Jair Bolsonaro
Image: Reuters/R. Moraes

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has accused Venezuela's leftist government of violating Mercosur's democratic clause, and said the country should be expelled from the economic alliance.

Bolsonaro made the remarks in an interview with Brazilian local media, where he also spoke about his plans for his transition to power.

The Mercosur trade bloc consists of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, which joined the alliance in 2012.

Bolsonaro's remarks are likely to antagonize the regime of President Nicolas Maduro and could endanger Venezuela's already precarious status in the South American economic bloc.

Mercosur members have been expressing concerns about Venezuela's political and economic situation since 2016. As a result, Venezuela gave up its rotating presidency and was eventually suspended from the bloc.

Read more: Mercosur: Just an ordinary family?

Brazil's markets react positively to new president

Hard line against Venezuela

Bolsonaro has been seen as someone who could take a harder line with Maduro's regime.

US national security adviser John Bolton said last week that Bolsonaro's win, along with Ivan Duque's victory in Colombia, were "positive signs for the future of the region" that demonstrate a regional commitment to free markets and "accountable governance."

"The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere will not endure forever," Bolton said about the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Read more: Opinion: Brazilians were simply fed up

Economic reforms

As Bolsonaro prepares for his inauguration on January 1, the president-elect has said he will evaluate all the data necessary to carry out a "restructuring" of the country.

Read more: Will Bolsonaro deliver on promised economic reforms?

"The preliminary numbers that we have received are troublesome," Bolsonaro said, in reference to state-run firms. In particular, he pointed to what he saw as mismanagement by the leftist Worker's Party at the state-owned oil company Petrobras.

"We do not want to chase anyone, but we do want to privatize some state-owned firms, although not the most strategic ones," he said.

Bolsonaro also signaled his intention to overhaul Brazil's troubled pension system and said he wanted to lower taxes "responsibly."

With a team of orthodox economists, Bolsonaro is hoping to tackle the country's budget deficit to usher in new investment and spur economic growth, in an economy that is barely emerging from its worst recession.

jcg/cmk (EFE, Reuters)

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