December 7, 2015 / 4:45 PM / 4 years ago

Argentina's Macri backtracks on ousting Venezuela from Mercosur

Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri speaks during news conference after a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (not pictured) at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine President-elect Mauricio Macri’s incoming government will not seek to suspend Venezuela from South America’s Mercosur trade bloc, backtracking from earlier comments after Venezuela’s ruling Socialists took a beating in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Macri had said he would seek Venezuela’s suspension from Mercosur because of accusations of rights abuses committed by President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, saying he would trigger the bloc’s democratic clause to do so.

The democratic clause seeks to punish anti-democratic governments with isolation from the group.

“The democratic clause is applied to facts, and the facts were yesterday’s election. I think that today we can say that the elections have worked as established by the democratic framework and it appears that the results, which have been recognized by President Maduro, are a majority for the opposition,” Argentina’s foreign minister-designate, Susana Malcorra, told local radio on Monday.

“Nothing indicates that there is a reason for the democratic clause to be applied,” Malcorra said in an interview with radio Mitre.

Venezuela’s opposition trounced the ruling Socialists on Sunday to win the legislature for the first time in 16 years and gain a long-sought platform to challenge Maduro’s rule.

Maduro quickly acknowledged the defeat, the worst for the ruling “Chavismo” movement since founder Hugo Chavez took power in 1999.

“We must congratulate the Venezuelan people and recognize that the government has made a clear sign of recognition of the results of the elections,” said Malcorra.

Reporting by Juliana Castilla; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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