Caracas, April 18, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez hit back at a joint statement issued by 11 Latin American governments this Monday, accusing them of intervening in Venezuelan domestic affairs.
The declaration was made public by Colombia’s Foreign Ministry on Twitter, and calls on the Venezuelan government to “ensure the right to peaceful protest” and “avoid violence” during mass pro and anti-government marches this coming Wednesday.
“These governments have been developing an interventionist politics at the heart of the Organization of American States [OAS] and in other group regional spaces,” said Rodriguez on Venezuelan state television VTV Tuesday, referring to an effort by fifteen OAS member states on April 3 to declare a rupture of the constitutional order in Venezuela.
Signed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Paraguay, Perú, and Uruguay, Monday’s statement additionally urges Caracas to release a timetable for regional elections that were delayed last year “to solve the serious crisis affecting Venezuela and which worries the region”.
However, opposition leaders have confirmed that regional elections would not be enough to halt their protests. They say that they will stay in the streets until all of their central demands are met, including the removal of several Supreme Court judges and immediate general elections.
Monday’s statement also goes on to express condolences for the six victims who have lost their lives as a result of opposition-led violent protests over the past ten days, and calls on opposition militants to “exercise their right to protest peacefully… and in calm”.
For her part, Rodriguez accused the governments of hypocrisy, and questioned the human rights records of many administrations that had signed the statement. The top diplomat said it was not the place of other regional governments to pass judgement on Venezuela’s democracy.
“There are many [countries], I would say the majority, which do not have the morality to be able to make reference to Venezuela and to talk about democracy in our country… Of all the groups mentioned there, Venezuela is the only one that is able to demonstrate to the whole world, a participative and protagonist democracy, and let’s not get started on human rights,” she said.
“These governments do not recognize that there is a legitimate and constitutional government in the country, and they attempt to erode the foundations of Venezuela’s rule of law. That’s why they have received a forceful response from the Venezuela government, which rejects and protests these positions,” she continued.
Several other international institutions have also issued communications in reference to the ongoing protests and Wednesday’s planned demonstrations.
For its part, the U.S. State Department backed the 11 country statement in a press release on Tuesday, in which it accused the Venezuelan government of several unsubstantiated violations, including the torture of demonstrators and allegedly providing weapons to “armed bands” under the control of socialist party leaders.
“We also again remind the public forces – members of the Police, the Army and the National Guard – as well as members of the judiciary, of their legal and constitutional responsibilities to protect, not prevent, peaceful demonstrations,” reads the statement.
The press release also goes on to warn “those responsible for the criminal repression of peaceful democratic activity, for the undermining of democratic institutions and practices, and for gross violations of human rights” that they will be “held individually accountable for their actions by the Venezuelan people and their institutions, as well as by the international community”.
Speaking on state television on Tuesday evening, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fired back at the Trump administration, accusing it of promoting regime change in the South American nation.
"The United States of America and the State Department have given the green light for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela," the head of state denounced.
OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro likewise issued a statement Tuesday in which he refers to the Venezuelan government as a “repressive regime,” citing a long list of the government’s alleged violations of human and political rights. The OAS head has tried unsuccessfully several times to have Venezuela suspended from the regional body.
Meanwhile, a more cautionary communiqué was issued by the European Union appealing for calm in the South American nation, although it did not specifically criticize the Venezuelan government.