Puebla, Mexico, March 24, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has accused the US of “aggression”, after a group of 14 nations issued a joint statement Thursday demanding new elections in the South American country.
The statement accused Venezuela of jailing political dissidents, and warned of a breakdown of institutional order and rule of law.
"We reiterate that inclusive and effective dialogue is the right path to achieve lasting solutions to the challenges faced by the Venezuelan people," the statement read.
One of the statement’s key supporters, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, called for Venezuela to "re-establish democracy.”
Venezuela has responded by accusing signatories of the statement of acting under direction from Washington.
“These statements reveal who is promoting an interventionist communique against Venezuela in the OAS [Organisation of American States],” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez tweeted.
She continued, “We will denounce these actions country by country. We will not allow any aggression against our sacred homeland.”
Along with Mexico and the US, signatories of the statement also included Brazil, Canada, Chile and other countries in the region.
The group isn’t large enough to force Venezuela’s suspension from the OAS, where Caracas continues to enjoy broad support. The US has likewise denied the statement was part of efforts to push Venezuela from the regional body.
“We're not pushing for Venezuela's expulsion from the OAS at this time. We do think that the OAS is the appropriate venue to deal with the situation in Venezuela,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a press conference.
President Nicolas Maduro hit back by accusing the US of using right-wing governments in the region as “imperialist” pawns.
“We repudiate the Washington Consensus and the aggression they seek,” he said.
Despite the public denials, privately, a White House official told Reuters the statement was a major step towards an OAS suspension.
"Having the Mexicans in the lead is beneficial for us in attracting additional support," the White House official said.
Venezuela’s domestic opposition has long demanded both a suspension from the OAS, and fresh presidential elections. The next presidential vote isn’t scheduled until April 2018, when Maduro’s term ends.