OAS Head Calls for “Concrete Actions” against Venezuela

Luis Almagro called for international sanctions gainst Venezuela following the temporary suspension of the country’s presidential recall referendum process last week.

By Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas
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Luis Almagro has once again called on OAS member states to take action against the Venezuelan government. (Reuters)
Luis Almagro has once again called on OAS member states to take action against the Venezuelan government. (Reuters)

Caracas, October 25, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) has called on member nations to take “concrete actions” against Venezuela following the temporary suspension of the country’s presidential recall referendum process last week. 

Last Thursday Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that the opposition’s bid to activate a presidential recall referendum would be temporarily delayed pending investigations into 53,658 fraudulent signatures collected by the opposition in the first stage of activating the plebiscite.

The news prompted a Twitter diatribe from Almagro– a staunch ally of the Venezuelan opposition– who took to social media to label Venezuela a “dictatorship” just hours later. 

“Only dictatorships strip citizens of their rights, refuse to recognise the legislature and has political prisoners #Venezuela,” he fired on Twitter. 

More controversially, the OAS head also appeared to reject the authority of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who he accused of having lost "all of his legitimacy” allegedly as a result of the postponement. 

Almagro has consistently provided political support for the Venezuelan opposition since taking up the top position at the regional organisation last year. Earlier this year, he unilaterally attempted to have Article 20 of the Inter-American Charter applied against Venezuela, which could ultimately lead to sanctions. The legal provision allows for the OAS’ permanent council to step in when there is breach of the constitutional order in a member state.   

The attempt was ultimately torpedoed by the majority of the organisations’ members, who rebuked Almagro for political bias. 

Nonetheless a repeat of the Article 20 saga looks set to be on the cards, after an official OAS press communique on Saturday confirmed that Almagro had once again called on member-states to apply the penalty in light of last week’s suspension. 

The statement was released after the coordinator of Venezuela’s rightwing Popular Will Party Carlos Vechhio confirmed on Twitter that he had officially asked Almagro to re-open the request, as well as to receive a delegation from the MUD opposition coalition and its legislators.  

In a follow-up interview with CNN on Monday, Almagro confirmed that “concrete actions” against Venezuela could include sanctions, but did not give details. He also appeared to dismiss local Venezuelan court orders to freeze the recall on account of 53,658 irregular signatures as a technicality, arguing that it is unreasonable to allow “municipal orders to affect the recall”. 

“In this way it would be impossible to ever carry out a referendum, because it would mean having control over all the signees, and just a couple of… false identities getting through could bring down the whole process,” he said.

“This is totally impossible to control for the opposition,” he added.  

The comments appear to contradict earlier statements made by the opposition, which claimed to have audited all of the signatures. 

The OAS head also went on to condemn as “violent” a Chavista take-over of the National Assembly this past Sunday in response to an unconstitutional attempt by the Venezuelan legislature to impeach Maduro during his absence from the country. 

Although there has been no official reaction from the Venezuelan government to Almagro’s string of comments, Bolivian President and Venezuela ally Evo Morales hit back at OAS chief on Twitter Sunday, accusing him of being a “pro-imperialist puppet”.  

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