Santa Elena de Uairén, 10th March 2014, (Venezuelanalysis.com) - The Organization of American States (OAS) approved in last Friday’s summit a statement expressing solidarity and support for the Venezuelan government in light of recent events.
On 7 March, after two full days of heated debate, 29 states of the OAS voted in favor of a declaration lamenting the victims of protest-related violence in Venezuela, detailing the need for continued dialogue, and decidedly rejecting any notion of intervention or sanctions upon Venezuela’s democratically elected government.
Only Panama, the United States and Canada voted against the statement. Both Panama and the U.S. made assertions included in the declaration’s footnotes accusing the OAS of partiality, and pointed to diplomatic intervention as an imperative step for protecting human rights and democracy in the region.
US vice-president Joe Biden made his stark difference of opinion known upon his arrival in Chile this morning, where he will attend Tuesday’s inauguration of President-elect Michelle Bachelet.
“The situation in Venezuela reminds me of the past, when strongmen ruled through violence and oppression, and human rights, hyperinflation, shortages and extreme poverty caused havoc on the peoples of the hemisphere,” Biden said in an interview with Chilean newspaper El Mercurio. “[Maduro] should listen to the Venezuelan people, and look at the example of those leaders who resisted oppression in the Americas, or risk repeating the injustices against which they fought so bravely."
Biden did not specify what exemplary leaders resisted oppression and whose oppression they resisted.
Maduro responded by arguing that Biden’s remarks are revenge for the OAS’s decision to stand by the Venezuelan government in the face of recent opposition protests and violence.
“Why did Biden attack Venezuela upon his arrival in Chile?, Maduro asked. “It’s because they know they were defeated in the OAS.”
Maduro, in turn, praised the OAS declaration as an important show of support for Venezuelan democracy.
On 12 March, after Bachelet’s inauguration, foreign ministers of the UNASUR bloc (Union of South American Nations) will meet in Santiago to discuss the situation in Venezuela. Maduro’s presence is expected. The summit was organized in part to see where each participating nation might stand if the OAS had approved an intervention.
The OAS statement in its entirety has been translated below by Venezuelanalysis.com:
Solidarity and Support of Democratic Institutions, Dialogue, and Peace and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
(Approved in the March 7th session)
In relation to recent events in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Permanent Council declares:
It’s condolences and solidarity with the victims and their relatives, with the people and the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and its commitment to the investigations coming to an expedited and just conclusion.
It’s respect for the principle of non intervention in the internal affairs of states and its commitment to the defense of democratic institutionalism of the state of law in agreement with the OAS Charter and international law.
It’s most enthusiastic rejection of all forms of violence and intolerance, and a call to all sectors of peace for tranquility and respect for human rights and fundamental liberties, including the right to freedom of expression, peaceful gatherings, free transit, health and education.
The recognition, full support and encouragement towards the initiatives and efforts of the democratically elected government of Venezuela, and to all political, economic and social sectors, to continue advancing the process of national dialogue, towards political and social reconciliation, within the framework of deep respect and constitutional guarantees for all and on behalf of the democratic representatives.
It’s interest is in maintaining itself informed of the situation and the established dialogue in Venezuela.
The Republic of Panama presents its reservations to the present declaration.
i. It does not agree with the inclusion of the word solidarity in the title of the Declaration, given that its’ subject matter refers to the support of dialogue, peace and democracy.
ii. Moreover, it considers the support and encouragement of the initiatives and efforts of the democratically elected government of Venezuela may be interpreted as a partiality towards the Government, above other members of society. The reference to the continued advance of progress in national dialogue could be interpreted as support only of the current dialogue.
iii. In reference to the last paragraph, the Republic of Panama considers that the OAS should have a more dynamic attitude and monitor the situation and national dialogue in Venezuela, not only declare its interest in maintaining itself informed of the already established dialogue.
2. The United States supports the call for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Venezuela on the basis of an authentically inclusive dialogue. However, the United States cannot support this declaration given that it does not adequately reflect the Organization’s commitment to promote democracy and human rights in the hemisphere. In fact, the declaration places the OAS in a position of partiality, which is not permitted.
Specifically, the second paragraph suggests, incorrectly, that the supposed necessity to maintain order and respect for the principle of no intervention has priority over the commitments of all the Member States of the OAS to promote and protect human rights and democracy. This declaration contradicts Article 2 of the Charter of the Organization of American States and the consecrated principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Though the fourth paragraph makes reference to dialogue, it lacks a key element to rectify the problems in Venezuela. In order to succeed, dialogue must be genuine and include all parts. The declaration partially supports a government-sponsored dialogue, which has been rejected by important opposition sectors.
The United States believes that genuine dialogue would require the participation of a third party that has the trust of all parts. It also demands the end of all intent to repress the liberty of expression and the freedom of all political prisoners. Unfortunately, the declaration does not sufficiently promote these objectives. The OAS does not sanction a dialogue in which the majority of the opposition does not have faith nor say. Only the Venezuelans can find solutions to the problems of Venezuela, but the current situation of the country demands a third party of confidence facilitates the debate while Venezuelans seek these solutions.
Lastly and fundamentally, the United States cannot agree with the call made by the declaration for “full support from the OAS” towards a dialogue in which the process is orchestrated by one sole actor. The OAS has the responsibility to remain neutral, it cannot take sides.