OAS Member States Call for Recall Referendum in Venezuela

Fifteen of the regional bloc's member states have issued a statement in support of a recall referendum this year.

By Jeanette Charles
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Organization of American States' flag. (Shutterstock/Jiri Flogel)
Organization of American States' flag. (Shutterstock/Jiri Flogel)

Los Angeles, California, August 11th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Fifteen members of the Organization of American States (OAS) regional bloc released a statement Thursday demanding Venezuela “act without delay” to carry out a referendum this year on whether to recall current President Nicolás Maduro. The statement’s signatories included: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Uruguay.

“We call on the Venezuelan authorities to guarantee the exercise of the constitutional rights of the Venezuelan people and that the remaining steps for the realization of the presidential recall referendum be pursued clearly, concretely and without delay, and thus contribute to the quick and effective resolution of the current political, economic and social difficulties in the country,” expressed the OAS signatories.

Venezuelan Ambassador to the OAS Bernardo Álvarez, referred to the statement as “irregular” and “anti-diplomatic”.

“Perhaps this is one more test of how divided the organization is, there is a desire to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Álvarez further expressed.

Additionally, the statement encourages the Venezuelan government to dialogue with the opposition, a process which the government describes as difficult given the opposition’s extensive list of preconditions.

Likewise, Peru’s Congress passed a resolution 103 to 12 Wednesday condemning Venezuela for allegedly violating “democratic principles and suppressing opposition.” In addition, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and the Peruvian Congress received Henrique Capriles, a former opposition presidential candidate and current Miranda State governor, in Lima. 

“This state of affairs is the culmination of the lack of democracy, political intolerance and stubbornness in misguided policies translating to the erosion of the separation of powers, restricting the freedom of expression and violation of human rights in the existence of an authoritarian and repressive regime which has turned to crime and the political persecution of the democratic opposition, which has posed a recall referendum process to which the government puts undue bureaucratic obstacles,” Peru's congressional resolution states.

The Peruvian legislature's resolution urges that President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski send a delegation to Venezuela to assess the conditions of Peruvian citizens residing in the South American nation. The resolution allows for the repatriation of any individuals wishing to return to Peru. Finally, the statement supports an OAS fostered dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

These statements come after Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Delcy Rodríguez called out Argentine President Mauricio Macri for his comments in opposition to Venezuela’s legitimate right to serve as the President Pro Tempore of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur).  

In an interview with the pop culture driven new-site Buzzfeed, Macri voiced his unwavering allegiance to Venezuela’s opposition and called for the release of “political prisoners” and referred to the current economic conditions as a “disaster”.

In response, Rodríguez denounced Macri on her official Twitter page stating, “Mr. Macri advocates the destruction of Mercosur, following instructions from the US which is leading him to commit historical mistakes.”

Earlier this week, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena announced that the Venezuelan opposition will be allowed to continue their signature collection in support of a recall referendum. The opposition needs to guarantee 20 percent of the country’s voters, approximately four million people, support the initiative in order to officially authorize a recall referendum.

The process to verify the signatures and schedule the referendum would take an estimated 90 days according to the CNE. Given this time, Lucena confirmed that a referendum could not be reasonably held this year.