Mérida, 21th March 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Organisation of American States (OAS) has voted not to hear Venezuelan far right legislator Maria Corina Machado discuss the situation in her country. However there are reports she was able to speak later in the session, but not on Venezuela as an agenda item.
Machado had been offered Panama's seat at the regional organisation to testify on ongoing disturbances in Venezuela, during a meeting today in Washington.
Machado is a fierce critic of the government who signed a decree backing a 2002 coup against the current Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Earlier this week, Venezuela's National assembly called for criminal charges against Machado, in relation to her role in recent violent protests.
According to EFE, 22 countries voted against allowing Machado to speak on Venezuela, with three in favour and nine abstentions.
The decision was welcomed by Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua, but condemned by some representatives, including those from the US and Panama.
“Some people out there asking the intervention of the homeland, I think the yankee-lovers are defeated again,” Jaua stated, according to Telesur.
Earlier today, the OAS also voted to close the session to the press. 22 countries voted in favour of the move, which was proposed by Nicaragua. 11 opposed the decision, with one abstention from Barbados.
Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador and every Caribbean country except Barbados backed the move.
According to AFP, Brazil's ambassador stated the “objective of this meeting is not to turn itself into a circus for an outside audience as some representatives have shown they want to do”.
Machado criticised the decision, claiming Maduro is “trying to prevent Venezuela's voice from being heard and listened to”.
“If anything has been clarified with today's action is that they fear that Venezuela's reality might be disclosed,” she argued, according to El Universal.
“They fear that the magnitude of what is happening in Venezuela might be known,” she added.
Earlier this month the OAS ruled out intervention in Venezuela, instead calling for dialogue between Maduro's government and the opposition. The declaration in favour of dialogue was backed by 29 member states, with only the US, Canada and Panama voting against it.
Despite criticism of the declaration from the three dissenting voters, Jaua described the rejection of OAS intervention as a “victory”.
Maduro has previously stated he would prefer talks through the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). On 12 March, UNASUR backed Maduro's peace conferences, which have been boycotted by most of Venezuela's political opposition.
Next week, representatives from member states of UNASUR will meet in Caracas to form a commission to support the peace conferences. The commission will be headed by UNASUR's pro tempore president, Suriname. According to a resolution from the regional body, the initiative aims to promote dialogue between all “political forces and social sectors, in the pursuit of reaching agreement that leads to understanding and social peace”.
UPDATE 22/3/2014: There are reports today that Machado was allowed to speak briefly later in the session. The Wall Street Journal paraphrases an unnamed OAS official as stating Machado was able to speak on "ad hoc" issues, but Venezuela wasn't an agenda item.