The prize for which Venezuela’s late former president Hugo Chávez (1999- 2013) strove so hard could soon be taken away from the country. Chávez made it a personal mission to see Venezuela accepted as a full member of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), which he described as “Bolívar’s machinery”. When Venezuela finally achieved this objective in 2012, the first full member to be admitted to the bloc since its formation in 1991, Chávez declared emphatically that it constituted “a major defeat for US foreign policy in South America”, arguing that Washington had “always wanted to isolate Venezuela”. But now the prospect of that isolation looms large: Venezuela faces being suspended from Mercosur this December, barely four years after joining.

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