Venezuela Exposed Hypocrisy at the OAS Extraordinary Session

By Jeanette Charles

In case you missed the Organization of American States’ (OAS) extraordinary convening Tuesday to discuss Venezuela’s ongoing dialogue between the Bolivarian government and sectors of the opposition, Minister of Foreign Relations Delcy Rodríguez continued to poetically defend her nation’s sovereignty and advocated fiercely for peace.

At the meeting, Rodríguez called for organizational-wide reflection and reconstruction as she referenced the historical ways regional powers like the United States and its allies have utilized the OAS as a platform to preserve their regional dominion while violating member states’ rights to sovereignty and honest cooperation.

The session which took place in Washington D.C., included reports from the UNASUR mission tasked with facilitating the dialogue process in Venezuela. Former Spanish Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, member of the UNASUR mission, expressed, “Our only duty is to help Venezuela face its challenges, with deep respect for the country’s sovereignty.”  He affirmed that UNASUR has mediated 20 meetings since May 19.

On June 1st, the OAS Permanent Council unanimously voiced its full support for dialogue in Venezuela opposing OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro’s call to slap the South American nation with the organization’s democratic charter.

As Rodríguez expressed her appreciation for some member states’ “sincere concerns” regarding Venezuela’s crisis, she also explained, “we reject any interventionist aspirations.”

In response to these “interventionist aspirations ”, the Venezuelan diplomat did not hold back and delivered a passionate speech which denounced intervention against Venezuela, exposed the region’s contradictions and finally, urges member states to challenge the organization’s “dangerous tendencies”.

1) Almagro: “You’re violating [OAS] norms”

“Where does the [respecto for the] sovereignty of member states lie,” Rodríguez began as she criticized Almagro for his continued attempts to justify intervention in Venezuela.

She continued, “on what basis does he feel he can legitimately do this? First he wrote a fraudulent report about Venezuela without the consent of the concerned state. Isn’t this a violation of the organizational norms?”

Rodríguez closed her critique of Almagro saying, “It’s because you do not recognize the legitimate government of President Nicólas Maduro. I brought you a picture. [Pointing to the photo] This is the Venezuelan president, constitutional and legitimate. You work for the member states’ governments. But you have decided to work for the Venezuelan opposition. You are violating all the norms.”

On Monday, Almagro took a step back and denied that he was working to suspend Venezuela from the regional organization.

2) Paraguay: Where’s your sense of democracy?

Rodríguez called out the Paraguayan Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations Oscar Cabello Sarubbi for commenting on Venezuela’s circumstances and dialogue process as well.

“I have contained myself for a long time but I have to respond. How can a government that came to be through a coup speak about democracy? How can authorities tied to Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship speak about democracy? With what moral compass are you speaking about Venezuela? Enough with the double standards,” expressed Rodríguez.

Former President Fernando Lugo was illegitimately impeached by Paraguayan Congress in 2012 resulting in what has been internationally denounced as a parliamentary coup.

3) Venezuela on Trial?

Given the continued targeting of Venezuela in recent weeks at the OAS, Rodríguez highlighted how the OAS no longer functions as a regional apparatus to address shared issues across the hemisphere. Rather, Rodríguez critiqued, “Have we converted this organization into the Supreme Court against Venezuela where in place of a judge and prosecutor, we have the United States and their tool, General Secretary Luis Almagro?”

4) Shameful Situation in the US

Of course, Rodríguez mentioned the US and spoke to the long laundry list of human rights violations in the North American nation.

“Please! Free the political prisoners you have in this country. You have one of the longest held prisoners in all of humanity here in the US. It’s shameful. Eliminate the death penalty. How can you speak about human rights when you haven’t even adopted the most fundamental human rights protocols? What democracy do you speak of when your own people cannot even directly vote for their own leader,” Rodríguez exclaimed.

Although US Deputy Permanent Representative to the OAS Michael Fitzpatrick reiterated US support for the dialogue, he remarked,  “[The dialogue] cannot be an excuse to stall. The Venezuelan people cannot afford delays to solutions to the problems they face.”

Upon hearing Fitzpatrick’s comments, Rodríguez said, “[He] is speaking on his own behalf because [Fitzpatrick] does not reflect the spirit of the conversation I had with Secretary John Kerry where he reaffirmed the principle of respect for the equality of [OAS] member states.”

5) “Stop the Sabotage…Peace is a Process”

“We are worried about the comments made by some of you that ‘so much time has transpired and you [Venezuelans] have not done a good job.’ In Venezuela we have 17 years preventing violence from sectors of the opposition that seek to topple our legitimate and constitutional government,” she explained.

“We have not given up hope. Peace deserves all our effort, patience and respect. A month has hardly pass [since we’ve begun the dialogues],” Rodríguez clarified.

6) “We Will Celebrate Peace in Colombia”

Poignantly, Rodríguez spoke to the peace process in Colombia and advocated for similar recognition as Venezuela carries out essentially a “preventative peace process”.

“Venezuela has assumed the Peace Process in Colombia. A committed peace process. We will celebrate peace in Colombia as our own because it means peace for Venezuela and for the region,” she affirmed. Venezuela has actively supported the Colombian peace process as they share an interwoven history as well as geographical borders.

7) Respect for Mexico’s Teachers

Similarly, Rodríguez requested time to honor teachers in Oaxaca speaking to Venezuela’s ongoing solidarity with peoples in struggle. “I want to dedicate 30 seconds of my speech in honor of the massacred teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Our condolences to their families, friends and authorities. From the Venezuelan people, we pay homage because we know the repression that they have suffered and the barbarous massacre that was committed,” she said.

8) Amnesty Law: Opposition’s Laundry List of Crimes

“Why did Nicólas Maduro agree to a dialogue with the opposition? There’s a recent legislative reason behind this…The so-called Amnesty Law,” Rodríguez reminded member states.

Rodríguez referenced several articles including 2 and 4 of the law which confess 17 years of violent, criminal, and ultimately failed opposition attempts to topple the democratically-elected governments of Chávez and Maduro. In response to the legislation, President Maduro has proposed the creation of a “Truth and Justice Commission” to investigate acts of political violence in Venezuela on a case by case basis. The opposition has firmly rejected this initiative.

The foreign minister also mentioned the Bolivarian government’s two previous dialogues with the opposition in 2002 following the coup d’état and in 2014 following the political violence associated with the opposition’s political call for a new government called “The Exit”.

9) OAS Needs Re-Direction

“We are worried that there is a dangerous tendency in this organization. I was here on May 5th and we discussed how from its genesis, the organization [OAS] naturally has two forces that are at odds with each other,” Rodríguez emphasized.

“The hemispheric imperial aspirations of the region’s hegemonic state and its area of influence. The legal, conceptional and spiritual contradiction exists in this permanent council today,” she declared, referring unambiguously to the United States.  As Rodríguez reiterated Venezuela’s concerns over the OAS’s historical “dangerous tendencies”, she also celebrated the maturity and power shifts in the organization in defense of solidarity and sovereignty including the OAS declaration denouncing the US occupation of the Dominican Republic in 1965 at the 46th General Assembly in Santo Domingo last week.

10) “Venezuela is Sovereign”

“I will say this now and always, Venezuela does not obey orders from the United States.” Mic drop.

War of Words Continues at OAS over Venezuela Vote

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

The Organisation of American States concluded another marathon discussion on Venezuela Thursday without voting on whether Caracas should be suspended from the regional bloc.

Although the three hour talks failed to culminate in the critical vote, Venezuela and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro fiercely clashed as representatives from across the region lined up to take sides.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused Almagro of trying to use his position to “to twist the arms” of other countries in the region.

“This organisation is being used to attack Venezuela,” Rodriguez said.

She continued, “It’s a clear infringement of the rules of this organisation. Is this how far we’ve come?”

Her comments came after Almagro presented a 132-page report laden with scathing criticism of the Venezuelan government.

Defending the report, Almagro said, “The situation facing Venezuela today is the direct result of the actions of those currently in power.”

Venezuela is currently facing a deep economic downturn, including scarcity of basic consumer goods and soaring inflation.

“Venezuela should be one of the most prosperous and influential countries in the region. Instead, it is a state mired in corruption, poverty and violence. It is the population who suffers the consequences,” Almagro said.

He continued by arguing the OAS Democratic Charter should be invoked against Venezuela, and the country’s President Nicolas Maduro face a recall referendum.

“Our goal is not to punish or sanction Venezuela,” he said.

If the Democratic Charter is invoked, Venezuela would likely face penalties including suspension from the OAS.

Technically, the OAS invoked the Democratic Charter by allowing Almagro to present his report on Thursday. However, Almagro will likely face an uphill battle to convince a majority of OAS members to back calls to suspend Caracas.

Two thirds of OAS member states would need to vote against Venezuela for the OAS to impose a suspension. Venezuela currently enjoys strong diplomatic support from regional allies like Ecuador and Bolivia, along with Caribbean nations that benefit from generous oil deals with the Maduro administration.

Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador Ronald Sanders said the OAS was overstepping its role and interfering in Venezuelan domestic affairs.

He argued Venezuela is facing a “struggle for power between several political factions”.

“But as of now there has been no unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime,” he said.

Thursday’s session was the second round of discussions on suspending Venezuela since the start of the month. On June 1, another round of talks ended with a suspension vote likewise being temporarily shelved, after Venezuela complained it hadn’t been properly consulted ahead of the discussion.