Puebla, Mexico, June 1, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Organisation of American States (OAS) failed to pass a proposed declaration condemning Venezuela Wednesday, while the European Union considered passing its own sanctions against the South American country.
Throughout more than five hours of OAS talks, the United States and Mexico led calls for a resolution demanding President Nicolas Maduro abandon a proposed constituent assembly to rewrite the country's constitution. The initiative was put forward by Maduro on May 1 as a path towards dialogue and a way to reunite the politically divided country. Nonetheless, the opposition has dismissed the proposal as a ploy, with many of their spokespeople arguing that the time for dialogue with the government is over, referencing the failure of Vatican-mediated talks last year.
Justifying their calls for the abandonment of the constituent assembly, a US Department of State spokesperson argued "good-faith negotiations" are needed between the government and opposition.
"The main responsibility for showing good faith in any negotiations now is on President Maduro and the government of Venezuela. We seek the full diplomatic strength of our hemisphere to help make such negotiations possible,” one State Department official told the press on Tuesday.
Along with urging Maduro to ditch the constituent assembly, the OAS resolution also called for the release of what opposition leaders say are political prisoners, and an end to the violence in Venezuela which has so far claimed at least 68 lives since the beginning of April.
Venezuela didn't attend the talks, and has vowed to leave the OAS, claiming that the organisation's secretary general is leading an interventionist campaign against its government.
Along with the US and Mexico, the resolution was co-sponsored by Canada, Peru, and Panama. A second draft resolution was also supported by Antigua and Barbuda, though it was withdrawn during the meeting. Neither resolution managed to garner enough support to pass, with Venezuelan allies accusing the US and others of seeking regime change in Caracas.
"The OAS cannot continue to be used by a country for a political lynching against the government of Venezuela, it is regrettable that a group of sister countries has been biased in their appraisals and focus," Nicaraguan Ambassador Luis Ezequiel Alvarado said.
The meeting was adjourned with no agreement being reached, and talks postponed for later this month. Venezuela has welcomed the outcome as a victory.
“The interventionist bloc in the OAS continues to be defeated by the honourable states of the region,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said shortly after talks concluded.
Venezuela also claimed a diplomatic victory at the United Nations, after it secured majority support to head the Special Political and Decolonization Committee overseeing missions covering peacemaking, human rights, and Palestinian refugees. Venezuela’s UN representative, Rafael Ramirez, said the outcome had been reached “despite US manoeuvring”.
Rodriguez took to Twitter to welcome the outcome.
“Venezuela defeats the US and its imperial obsession at the UN election, to chair the Peace, Decolonisation, and Palestine Missions Commission,” she wrote.
EU considers sanctions
Meanwhile, the European Parliament may consider imposing sanctions on Venezuela, according to its president, Antonio Tajani.
“We have to act now. That is why we also have to evaluate other concrete measures such as the possibility of taking sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials,” Tajani said.
The comment came after Tajani held talks with Venezuelan opposition leader and National Assembly head Julio Borges.
The EU already issued a statement in April condemning what it labeled “brutal repression” by Venezuelan state security forces against peaceful protesters, which faced immediate condemnation from Caracas.
“The position of the European Parliament is clearly interventionist,” Venezuela's EU vice-minister, Yvan Gil, said earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Tajani doubled down, blaming the government for Venezuela’s current political crisis.
“Violence and repression are not the solution to the peaceful demonstrations that have lasted more than nine weeks in which around sixty people have already died,” he said.
Several Venezuelan officials are currently under sanctions by the US government due to unsubstantiated allegations such as drug trafficking and overlooking human rights abuses. The sanctioned officials include Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, Attorney General Luisa Ortega, as well as several Supreme Court judges.
Of the 68 people who have died in Venezuela’s current wave of unrest, around 20 may have been killed by protesters themselves, according to data compiled by venezuelanalysis.com. At least 10 are suspected to have been killed by the actions of state security forces, while many others took place under unclear circumstances.