On the eve of the main day of the Southern Common Market Summit, Mercosur, in Argentina, social movements at the People's Summit in the city of Mendoza have given their full support to Venezuela.
The Venezuelan Ambassador to Argentina, Carlos Eduardo Martinez, told the alternative forum delegates, "We must keep in mind that what is happening today in the continent, especially in Venezuela, is an imperialist attack that has as fundamental objective to recolonize us, to end our sovereignty and to take possession of all the abundant natural resources with which our countries count".
Eduardo Martinez also thanked everyone at the People's Summit for their support.
Venezuela is absent from the Mercosur meeting because it considers it illegal.
A statement issued by the government in Caracas on Wednesday said “the ongoing reckless use of a body for integration as a means of political hostility against the government and people of Venezuela is alarming”.
The Argentine Deupty Foreign Minister Daniel Raimondi has warned that Mercosur will urge Venezuela to cancel its vote for the National Constituent Assembly at the end of July.
But Raimondi said the bloc will not consider "economic sanctions" ot "expulsion". He said "there is no such mechanism" within the regional group.
Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay maintain that Venezuela has been suspended from Mercosur since last December, but Caracas insists the move is invalid.
Meanwhile participants at the People's Summit have been stressing the importance of facing the onslaught from neoliberalism and calling for greater integration.
For almost 12 years, the social, human rights and political organizations from the member countries of the Mercosur trading bloc have held the parallel summit to provide an alternative perspective.
Although the host country of the trade bloc's meeting usually supports the forum with financial resources, this year the event is self-sustaining due to the lack of support from the government of the Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
The People's Summit, which is held a day before the Mercosur's biannual Heads of State talks, declared Milagro Sala as its honorary President along with her colleague, Nelida Rojas.
Milagro Sala is an indigenous leader of the Tupac Amaru neighborhood association and legislator to the Mercosur Parliament, or Parlasur, where her work involved administering a public grant to build low-income housing in Argentina's northern province of Jujuy.
She was arrested last January on allegations of mishandling those funds and has been in jail ever since.
Sala contests the allegations, stating that racism plays a key role in her detention. She also says she has been subjected to torture and received death threats.
The People's Summit is being held in the Faculty of Arts and Design, National University of Cuyo in Mendoza.
Delegates are focusing on four main issues, including regional sovereignty, natural resources, foreign interference and colonialism.
Topics related to the neoliberal policies imposed by President Mauricio Macri in Argentina and the recent labor reform approved by the lower chamber in Brazil are also being addressed.