Caribbean Nations Stand with Venezuela as OAS Meets in Mexico

Failing to reach a consensus as Caribbean nations and other allies backed Venezuela in defending its sovereignty, Peru withdrew a draft resolution on the country Monday from the Organization of American States shortly before foreign ministers were set to meet to discuss the political situation in Venezuela in hopes of adopting a resolution on the issue.

Two opposing draft resolutions had been expected to be up for debate at the meeting. One proposal, put forward by Peru, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Panama and supported by other countries, called for condemning the government of President Nicolas Maduro and attempting to put a stop the National Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution.

For measures condemning Venezuela to be accepted, sponsors of the proposal including Mexico and the United States would have needed to win the support of Caribbean countries, most of which have traditionally been allies of Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was president. Earlier on Monday, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said he was seeking support for the resolution, but Peru pulled out the proposal in the face of a lack of support shortly before the meeting was scheduled to begin.

A second counter proposal, but forward by the 14 countries of the Caribbean Community known as Caricom, called for an “internal” solution “based on dialogue” and rejecting potential international intervention.

The meeting on foreign ministers scheduled for 2:00 p.m. local time came ahead of the inauguration of the OAS General Assembly at 7:00 p.m. local time in the coastal city of Cancun. The meeting is scheduled to run until Wednesday.

Venezuela has criticized the OAS and its Secretary General Luis Almagro for attempting to meddle in the country’s politics, and justify international intervention.

Rather than backing the resolution condemning Venezuela, Caribbean nations called for an end to violence and urged both sides of the political divide to begin a new dialogue process. This is in keeping with the government of Venezuela’s attempts to to confront the violent protests called by the opposition that have left at least 84 people dead since they began in early April. The opposition is divided in accepting the call for a dialogue, a process that has received the support of Pope Francis and the Vatican as well as former presidents of the region.

This assembly comes after the first meeting of foreign ministers in Washington on May 31 to discuss Venezuela was suspended due to lack of consensus. A consensus needs to be agreed upon with at least 23 of the 34 members, about two-thirds of the countries. Cuba is not counted as it is no longer a member.

Social movements from Mexico and Venezuela organized several marches and events Sunday to show support for the South American nation and reject potential intervention.

Ahead of the start of the meeting, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused Almagro and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray for being complicit in verbal attacks against Venezuelan delegates visiting Mexico, including Ambassador Carmen Velasquez and Deputy Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada.

“I hold @Almagro_OEA2015 and @LVidegaray directly responsible for the physical integrity of our diplomats according to international law,” Rodriguez said on her Twitter account.

Videgaray responded by saying that such verbal attacks took place in a “free country” outside the hotel where many people had come “by their own volition.”

Videgaray and Rodriguez have criticized each other for the past weeks after the Mexican diplomat said Venezuela was not a democracy and voiced support for the opposition in their plans to block the National Constituent Assembly.

Moncada also accused the Mexican government of being an “accomplice” of the “verbal attacks” and “physical threats” that he received outside the hotel where the Venezuela delegation was staying.

Rodriguez said ahead of the meeting in a video posted on her Facebook page that Venezuelan has put forward 10 draft resolutions to be considered at the annual meeting, including motions rejecting U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and other issues.

She has said the procedure for Venezuela to leave the OAS, which the country began on April 27, will continue since it takes two years for a country to withdraw from the organization.

“Neither the OAS nor Luis Almagro nor the right wing of the region encouraged by the United States will win against sovereign Venezuela!” the foreign minister said on her Twitter account.

The statement was made after Almagro said that Venezuela’s Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, and the head of the Bolivarian National Guard, Antonio Benavides Torres, were “responsible for very serious violations of human rights.” Almagro’s comments have triggered rejection from several Latin American countries.

Almagro continued his controversial statements on Venezuela Monday ahead of the start of the OAS meeting, saying that Venezuela is suffering a constitutional crisis.

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