Venezuela Mercosur: Battle of rooms at Latin American summit

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Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, is blocked by riot police officers before entering the Argentine Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires during a meeting among Mercosur's ministers where Venezuela was not invited, on December 14, 2016Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Delcy Rodriguez flew to Buenos Aires even though she had not been invited

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has tried to gate-crash a Mercosur meeting in Buenos Aires.

Ms Rodriguez had not been invited to the meeting because Venezuela is suspended from the regional trade bloc.

She turned up at the Argentine foreign ministry regardless and brushed past security guards only to find the room where it was meant to be held, empty.

She accused guards of "attacking" her. Meanwhile, other regional leaders held their talks in a smaller room.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his foreign minister had been "gravely hurt". She had been "thrown to the ground", he said, and had "possibly broken a collar bone".

A recording shows her arguing with an official at the gate of the foreign ministry and then brushing past security guards.

President Maduro said the incident had happened "when the media was not present".

'Colluding against Venezuela'

Recordings do however show her walking up the stairs of the ministry while a number of people in her entourage shouted "careful with the foreign minister, she is a lady, let her through, respect a woman's right!".

She kept walking while a number of Argentine officials could be heard telling her: "You can't enter here!"

She finally entered the room where the meeting of the Mercosur minister was due to be held but the room is empty.

Ms Rodriguez tweeted a picture of herself smiling broadly, sitting next to the foreign minister of Bolivia, a country which is a close ally of Venezuela and an associate member of Mercosur.

"We're in the Mercosur meeting waiting for the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay," she wrote.

Critics of Ms Rodriguez pointed out that she did not look visibly hurt in the photograph.

Image source, Twitter
Image caption,
Delcy Rodriguez was smiling broadly when the picture was taken

As it became clear that the other foreign ministers were not going to show up, Ms Rodriguez tweeted again, this time accusing Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay of colluding against Venezuela.

Image source, Twitter
Image caption,
"The foreign ministers of the Triple Alliance collude against Venezuela and Mercosur by refusing to enter into dialogue with Bolivia and Venezuela."

Meanwhile, Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Serra also took to Twitter, posting a photograph of the meeting between him and Mercosur foreign ministers going on in another, smaller room.

Image source, Twitter
Image caption,
Jose Serra tweeted a picture of himself with the foreign ministers of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra later gave her version of the incident, referring in particular to a remark Ms Rodriguez had made to journalists before trying to crash the meeting.

"I think you can say that it turned into quite a complex situation, something that I would have preferred not to happen, as she [Delcy Rodriguez] said in her own words, that she wanted to enter 'be it by the door or the window'."

It was decided, Ms Malcorra said, to allow Ms Rodriguez to enter the building "because we all agreed that we did not want the situation to escalate into something bigger".

She said Venezuela's suspension would be lifted if it complied with Mercosur's obligations.

Venezuela was suspended from Mercosur earlier this month after Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay said it had failed to incorporate key rules on trade and human rights into national law.

Venezuela says it has incorporated all the rules except those which conflict with its domestic legislation.

It has declared its suspension "null and void".