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Argentina, Brazil to Closely Watch Venezuela Election

  • Associated Press

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff receives Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Dec. 4, 2015.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff receives Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Dec. 4, 2015.

Argentina's president-elect Mauricio Macri said Friday that he and Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff will be "closely observing'' Sunday's election in Venezuela.

Macri has made it clear that he's against the presence of the politically polarized Venezuela in the South American trade bloc Mercosur - principally because he says it has violated the group's democratic clause.

Macri is visiting Brazil on his first international trip after winning last month's vote.

In a press conference in Brasilia, in which Rousseff didn't participate, Macri said that he and the embattled Rousseff are "hoping that the tension that Venezuela is living today will subside.''

"What Mercosur will do [with Venezuela] is related to what happens on Sunday,'' he said.

Recent polls say that the opposition to leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro leads by about 30 percentage points ahead of elections that could change control of the country's congress for the first time since 1998.

Shortly after winning in Argentina, Macri said that he would pressure Mercosur to apply its democratic clause and suspend Venezuela because of accusations of rights abuses there.

But Rousseff, a big Venezuela supporter, has demanded evidence that the government has violated democratic rules.

During his short meeting with Rousseff, Macri called for closer commercial relations between the two neighbors that have been at odds over trade barriers.

"Both countries are suffering from a recession. We want to strengthen our trade relations,'' Macri said. "If Brazil does better, Argentina will do better, too.''

Macri says that Rousseff "was very calm'' despite the beginning of impeachment proceedings against her this week, noting that "she explained what was happening.''

Later, the president-elect met businessmen in Sao Paulo and insisted that Brazil and Argentina need to cooperate more to overcome their economic crises.

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