Puebla, Mexico, June 24, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Organisation of American States concluded another marathon discussion on Venezuela Thursday without voting on whether Caracas should be suspended from the regional bloc.
Although the three hour talks failed to culminate in the critical vote, Venezuela and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro fiercely clashed as representatives from across the region lined up to take sides.
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused Almagro of trying to use his position to “to twist the arms” of other countries in the region.
“This organisation is being used to attack Venezuela," Rodriguez said.
She continued, "It's a clear infringement of the rules of this organisation. Is this how far we've come?”
Her comments came after Almagro presented a 132-page report laden with scathing criticism of the Venezuelan government.
Defending the report, Almagro said, “The situation facing Venezuela today is the direct result of the actions of those currently in power.”
Venezuela is currently facing a deep economic downturn, including scarcity of basic consumer goods and soaring inflation.
“Venezuela should be one of the most prosperous and influential countries in the region. Instead, it is a state mired in corruption, poverty and violence. It is the population who suffers the consequences," Almagro said.
He continued by arguing the OAS Democratic Charter should be invoked against Venezuela, and the country's President Nicolas Maduro face a recall referendum.
"Our goal is not to punish or sanction Venezuela," he said.
If the Democratic Charter is invoked, Venezuela would likely face penalties including suspension from the OAS.
Technically, the OAS invoked the Democratic Charter by allowing Almagro to present his report on Thursday. However, Almagro will likely face an uphill battle to convince a majority of OAS members to back calls to suspend Caracas.
Two thirds of OAS member states would need to vote against Venezuela for the OAS to impose a suspension. Venezuela currently enjoys strong diplomatic support from regional allies like Ecuador and Bolivia, along with Caribbean nations that benefit from generous oil deals with the Maduro administration.
Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador Ronald Sanders said the OAS was overstepping its role and interfering in Venezuelan domestic affairs.
He argued Venezuela is facing a “struggle for power between several political factions”.
“But as of now there has been no unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime,” he said.
Thursday's session was the second round of discussions on suspending Venezuela since the start of the month. On June 1, another round of talks ended with a suspension vote likewise being temporarily shelved, after Venezuela complained it hadn't been properly consulted ahead of the discussion.