OAS’ Almagro Faces Renewed Calls for Resignation over Campaign Against Venezuela

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Organisation of American States head Luis Almagro faced a wave of demands for his resignation Thursday, after he called for fresh elections in Venezuela.

The latest response to Almagro’s demands came from Bolivia, which issued a statement Thursday condemning the OAS head’s actions as “interventionist”.

“It’s very regrettable and despicable that a secretary general of the OAS promotes the overthrow of a government constituted on a constitutional basis, and with the democratic vote of the people,” Bolivia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement continued by accusing Almagro of acting “outside the institutional framework” of his position at the OAS, and called on other Latin American countries to “evaluate” his actions.

The statement was the latest in a wave of international condemnation of Almagro’s latest comments on Venezuela.

On Tuesday, the OAS head claimed, “Venezuela is violating all the articles in the [OAS] democratic charter”. Almagro has repeatedly called for the OAS to invoke its democratic charter against Venezuela, which would effectively suspend the country from the regional bloc.

In his latest jab at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, he argued the country should hold new elections “as quickly as possible”.

The comments were quickly condemned by Venezuela, which has since been joined by other leftist governments in the region, along with progressive social movements.

On Wednesday, the Salvadorian Network in Solidarity with Venezuela said Almagro’s comments constituted “an attack not only against Venezuela, but also against all of our America”.

“With the presentation of his infamous report, made up of 75 pages full of lies, false positives and fake news, Almagro fails the level of competence required by the institution of the OAS, and demonstrates his determined commitment to affect Venezuela and is evidence of his support of a coup, and the violent and un-democratic right-wing of that country,” they stated.

Meanwhile on Thursday, an international group of Chilean and Venezuelan legislators demanded Almagro resign.

“Almagro has surpassed all lines, has exceeded all limits; his political interference and harassment of Venezuela must end, because with Almagro at the top, the OAS has become an instrument of destabilisation of democracies … in Latin America,” Chilean Senator Alejandro Navarro said on behalf of the Venezuela-Chile parliamentary group.

Navarro said Almagro should be immediately suspended from his position.

Almagro’s Campaign Against Venezuela

To invoke the democratic charter against Venezuela, Almagro would need the support of two-thirds of the 34 member states in the OAS. While Venezuela would likely face opposition from right-wing governments in countries such as Argentina and Brazil, Caracas would likely be able to count on the support of allies in Central America and the Caribbean. Leftist governments in Bolivia and Ecuador would also likely back Venezuela against any vote at the OAS.

Such a vote to enforce the democratic charter would almost certainly fail, according to Peruvian Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna.

“If you add up the numbers there is not a majority, and the vote is by consensus,” he told Reuters on Wednesday.

Luna’s government is one of the staunchest critics of Venezuela in the region, though he conceded calls for Caracas to be suspended from the OAS are excessive.

“In principle such initiatives have to be taken by member states and the suspension approach is extreme,” he said.

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