Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez has criticized the actions of Argentinean police officers and officials, claiming they physically assaulted her on Wednesday morning as she attempted to enter a meeting of foreign ministers of the South American trade bloc Mercosur.
Rodríguez, who was accompanied by Bolivian Foreign Affairs Minister David Choquehuanca, tried to enter the Palacio San Martín in Buenos Aires despite not having been invited to the event after fellow full members of the six-nation group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay stripped the country of its voting rights for failure to follow group rules.
Speaking to the press at the doors of the palace, the Venezuelan minister said that if they didn’t let her in, she would enter “through the window.”
Argentina’s foreign affairs minister, Susana Malcorra, then tried to placate Rodríguez by calling a bilateral meeting but when Rodríguez and Choquehuanca attempted to attend, tense scenes ensued and the ministers were jostled.
The Venezuelan minister said that if they didn’t let her in, she would enter “through the window”
Later on Wednesday, Rodríguez arrived at the city’s Instituto Patria, the headquarters of the supporters of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with her arm in a sling.
Rodríguez then said she had been attacked by a policeman and an official from the Argentinean Foreign Affairs Ministry. She said Choquehuanca and an assistant were also manhandled in the skirmish.
“There was a line of riot police, I raised my hand and said I was the foreign affairs minister of Venezuela, and in response, a policeman hit me with his hand. We managed to get in and there was another barrier where I was grabbed: I had my arm twisted and he told me to leave,” said the minister before an auditorium full of Kirchner supporters.
“Never, in any part of the world, have foreign affairs ministers been met with a line of riot police or have foreign affairs ministers and their delegations been stopped. I have got no evidence of that,” said Rodríguez.
“I will take it as revenge on the part of [Argentinean President Mauricio] Macri,” the minister added, in reference to Macri’s comments at a Mercosur summit in December 2015 in Paraguay when he demanded “the rapid release of political prisoners in Venezuela.”
At that meeting, Macri also said the priorities of the bloc were to push forward with free trade negotiations with the European Union (EU) and the Pacific Alliance trading bloc.
We managed to get in and there was another barrier where I was grabbed: I had my arm twisted and he told me to leave Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez
On Wednesday, Rodríguez said: “The only thing they are trying to exclude is the Venezuelan model because when it comes to this meeting, [Argentinean Foreign Minister] Malcorra has claimed Venezuela isn’t part of the free trade agreement with the EU, a treaty that has been drawn up behind closed doors.”
“They don’t want to engage in dialogue and are wrong. They aren’t just wrong but also lack morals and shame because we know that this attempted sanction against Venezuela should first be applied to them, for not having efficiently incorporated Mercosur rules in the manner Venezuela has done in just four years,” the country’s foreign minister said.
A shocked Malcorra later explained that she had informed her Venezuelan counterpart in writing that she was not invited to Wednesday morning’s event.
English version by George Mills.