Santa Elena de Uairén, 17th March 2014 (venezuelanalysis.com) - On Saturday Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced his plans to propose to the United States the creation of a high commission to promote peace and respect between the the two nations. He said it was time to “sit and look one another in the eyes, speak with respect for peace between two equals”.
The proposal comes after a week of exchanges between the two countries’ diplomats.
Last Monday U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said upon his arrival in Chile, “The situation in Venezuela reminds me of the past, when strongmen ruled through violence and oppression; and human rights, hyperinflation, scarcity and extreme poverty wrought havoc on the peoples of the hemisphere.”
On Friday state department spokesperson Marie Harf said that, “Venezuelan officials who attempt to make this [the protests] revolve around the United States are openly disregarding the truth about what is happening there.”
Harf said that a third party mediator must be included in the peace-seeking dialogue between the government and the opposition. She suggested right-wing Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos as an ideal mediator, an offer which Santos himself proposed.
Venezuelan opposition parties have boycotted Maduro’s peace talks, some pointing to the lack of a neutral mediator and others refusing to recognize the government’s legitimacy. But as a staunch ally of the United States, Santos doesn’t represent a neutral third party for any Latin American nation.
Some U.S. senators, including Democrats Robert Menendez (NJ) and Bill Nelson (FL), as well as renowned Miami Republican Marco Rubio, have issued a request for sanctions against Venezuela, together with a blacklist.
“We’re asking the administration to study and consider putting in place strong sanctions against these individuals…who hold assets, property and travel visas to the U.S.,” Rubio said.
Many of the individuals on the list are public officials and members of the Venezuelan armed forces. The general aim appears to be to use the sanctions to vex Venezuelan military elite who in effect, would turn on Maduro.
In a conference Nelson asked Marine Commander John Kelly (USSOUTHCOM) how the Venezuelan military might be expected to respond to sanctions. Kelly replied that the military “is watching and waiting. If we can restrict their freedom of movement or bank accounts… we’ll have more impact on their way of thinking about the future.”
Some senators have gone so far as to request a kind of embargo on Venezuela.
Lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) led the petition; “With the ongoing conflict in Venezuela and countless human rights violations occurring, I have asked the Obama administration to reduce its oil imports from Venezuela to send a signal of support to those being oppressed by the Maduro regime.”
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Congress last Wednesday, “We are prepared, if necessary, to invoke the Inter American Democratic Charter in the OAS (Organization of American States) and become involved in various ways, with sanctions or otherwise.”
Further exchanges took place last week. In a downward spiral of diplomacy, Kerry demanded Thursday that Maduro stop the “campaign of terror” against his people. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua responded by calling Kerry an “assassin of Venezuelan people” for “encouraging violence” and protests.
Despite U.S. lawmakers’ bold talk, many organizations set in place to protect democracy in the region have showed to have a different stance. Of the 32 OAS member nations, 29 approved a statement last week in favor of Venezuelan sovereignty, refuting the need for an intervention of any sort.
The ALBA trade bloc (Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America), made up of ten Latin American and Caribbean nations, released a statement on Friday calling Kerry’s remarks “an interference….that does not correspond with international law”.
President Maduro directly addressed Obama in Saturday’s speech, saying “The Miami lobby is taking measures to sanction Venezuela, but I tell you you’ll be going down a road without return [if you approve them]. If you enter a new stage of destabilization, we will enter a new stage of struggle. Whoever wants peace must be prepared and organized to defend it. Do not mess with Venezuela”.
“President Obama,” he implored, “give peace and respect a chance, let us build the foundation for a new relationship between Venezuela and the United States, and let the coup d’états be over with.”
Maduro plans to appoint the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, as Venezuela’s representative for the proposed High Commission for Peace and Respect. His said he hoped the commission will be provide a platform by which all Latin American nations can defend their sovereignty by addressing the United States government directly, or any other nation that wishes to intervene on democratic proceedings.
In this letter released on Friday, 46 experts call upon Secretary of State John Kerry to rectify his hostile position towards Venezuelan democracy.