Brazil sits out leftist Latin American nations' body on anti-democracy fears

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil has decided to suspend its participation in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a leftist regional body established by Venezuela, due to its failure to protect democracy, Brazil's foreign minister said on Thursday.

Writing on his Twitter account, Ernesto Araújo said Brazil was also pulling out because the organization, known as CELAC, had become a "stage" for authoritarian states, citing Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

"CELAC had not been generating results in defense of democracy or in any area," Araújo said.

Appointed by Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, Araújo has echoed the Brazilian leader's longstanding criticisms of leftist Latin American governments.

Countries across the region have, over the past few years, oscillated between left-wing and conservative governments, often with radically different economic and social policies.

Bolsonaro is the most visible right-wing leader in Latin America, while Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is the highest-profile leftist leader. Brazil is the region's biggest economy, followed by Mexico.

In recent months, anger at inequality and poverty have pushed conservatives out in Mexico and Argentina, while fueling protests that forced Ecuador and Chile to water down austerity-focused economic policies.

Mexico this month assumed the presidency of CELAC, which was established in Venezuela during the late President Hugo Chavez's government but has lost influence in recent years.

Despite pulling out of the CELAC, Araújo said Brazil remained committed to working in all other regional bodies, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and Mercosur.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro reiterated his attack against his political foes.

"Don't give the left a chance. They don't deserve to be treated like normal people who want the good of Brazil," he said at an event, adding that the "damn left didn't work anywhere in the world."


(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Eduardo Simoes; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)