Sun | Aug 20, 2017

OAS split on Venezuelan conflict

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2017 | 6:00 AM
In this May 3 photo, Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro waves to supporters outside the National Electoral Council headquarters in Caracas.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) has failed to pass either of two resolutions on Venezuela as member countries fail to agree on the way forward.

Last Wednesday, representatives of 33 of the 34 active members of the OAS met to discuss the current Venezuelan conflict at the 29th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Absent was the representative from Venezuela, who was initially accounted for in the official OAS attendance list, but eventually did not attend.

The meeting was called for earlier last month following Venezuela's April 27 move to withdraw from the OAS.

The Venezuelan government stated that the reasoning for its departure is that OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, elected in 2016, has been too partisan regarding the current political crisis in the country and that the United States backed Almagro bloc in the OAS has taken an interventionist stance too similar to that of the US in the 20th century, which was detrimental to Latin American sovereignty.

While two major resolutions were discussed by the representatives to the OAS, neither could muster sufficient support to pass.

The first, led by an organisation of Caribbean states (CARICOM) and backed by a number of pro-Venezuelan allies including Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and El Salvador, urged Almagro to refrain from interventionist actions in Venezuela.

The second, proposed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the US, and Uruguay condemned the proposed Venezuelan Constituent Assembly because of the concern that it would undermine Venezuelan democratic institutions.

Neither position garnered sufficient votes to pass a resolution. CARICOM countries, which formed a consensus before the meeting, end up being a powerful policy broker on behalf of non-intervention and dialogue in Venezuela.

Each of the member states that spoke at the meeting called for an open internal dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

The representatives of Nicaragua and Bolivia, staunch allies of Venezuela, were outspokenly opposed to any form of US or OAS intervention.

Most of the other speakers, who were supporting the US-backed resolution, were more pointed in their opposition to recent actions taken by the Venezuelan government, with many, including the United States, urging Caracas to release its alleged political prisoners, to end the trial of civilians in military tribunals, and to clamp down on the violence against opposition protesters.

The meeting concluded with the suspension of talks until June 19 in Cancun.