Mercosur trade bloc suspends Venezuela on democracy concerns


SAO PAULO (AP) — The South American trade bloc Mercosur has suspended Venezuela for failing to follow democratic norms amid a deepening political crisis in the country.

Venezuela was previously suspended in December for failing to uphold commitments it made when it joined the group in 2012.

The new suspension will make it harder to return to good standing since it can be lifted only when the bloc is satisfied that Venezuela has restored democratic order.

The decision came at a meeting of Mercosur foreign ministers in Sao Paulo on Saturday, as Venezuela’s newly formed constitutional assembly ousted the country’s chief prosecutor who broke with President Nicolas Maduro in April.

The assembly will have sweeping powers, and opposition leaders fear it will be used to strengthen Maduro’s power and crack down further on dissent.

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