There was a time when Venezuela was one of the major leaders in South American affairs, both in exports and political influence. But the rest of the continent has become increasingly alarmed at the deterioration of the country under the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro. In past years, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) was the primary force in establishing South American policy. Hugo Chavez was key to bringing that alliance together, but recently, several countries have curtailed their participation. Now a new group called Prosur is being formed for the express purpose of countering the influence of Maduro. (Reuters)

South American countries are developing a new diplomatic group to replace the Unasur regional bloc that is heavily influenced by increasingly isolated Venezuela, Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Monday.

The Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, was created 10 years ago by late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez to counteract the influence of the United States in the region as a wave of leftist leaders held sway over the region’s politics.

But mounting criticism that Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, is undermining democracy, as well as a general rightward shift in the region, led Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru to suspend their participation in the group.

Needless to say, Venezuela will not be invited to join. This action comes on the heels of many of these same nations, along with the United States and Canada, publicly declaring Venezuela’s last elections invalid and describing Maduro’s presidency as illegitimate. Most of them have chosen to recognize opposition leader and National Congress chief Juan Guaido as the only legitimate person to assume the presidency until a new round of free and fair elections can be held.

The steady, international drip, drip, drip of opposition to Maduro’s tyranny is growing into a flood. He’s largely isolated from the developed world with only a few notable exceptions. Unfortunately, two of those exceptions are Russia and China, from whom he’s receiving large amounts of financial and military assistance. Until that changes, or until the country’s citizens and/or military rise up to remove him from power, Maduro will likely continue on with his reign of carnage. Meanwhile, the number of refugees fleeing his country has exceeded three million and that figure is rising every week.

Where does this train of events finally end? I have no idea, but we can be fairly certain that it’s not going to be pretty and the suffering of the Venezuelan people will continue apace.