OAS Secretary General Assures Venezuelan Democracy is Not Threatened

Democracy is not being threatened in Venezuela according to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza yesterday at a press conference in Uruguay.

By Chris Carlson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Mérida, June 15, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Democracy is not being threatened in Venezuela according to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza yesterday at a press conference in Uruguay. Insulza explained that the decision of the Venezuelan government to not renew the broadcast license of the private television channel RCTV does not threaten democracy in the country but he maintained that he would still be willing to head a mission to Venezuela to investigate the case of RCTV if the OAS member nations request it.

The Secretary General made the statement yesterday in Montevideo, Uruguay, where the Second Meeting of Government Spokespeople of OAS Member Countries is being held. During the last OAS General Assembly meeting in Panama, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested the organization to send an OAS mission to Venezuela to investigate the recent conflict that emerged around the RCTV decision.

"If the United States made a formal petition, then I would contact Venezuela and the rest of the countries. If they believe I should go, then I will go," said Insulza to reporters at a press conference. "I have an obligation to make consultations, which does not diminish the fact that the Secretary General has a certain degree of freedom to take actions. However, in this case I have to make consultations with the member states," he explained.

Insulza went on to explain that the Venezuelan government's decision to not renew the broadcast license of the private channel RCTV was not debated by the General Assembly of the OAS two weeks ago because the decision was an administrative decision taken by a member state of the organization and did not "threaten its democracy."

"We should wonder why a number of democratic countries where freedom of expression prevails decided not to take a stance on this issue," he said upon being asked about the RCTV case. "I believe the reason is that they believed this is an administrative measure taken by a member state which does not threaten its democracy."

The Secretary General explained that the OAS charter allows for this type of political action "only when there is a serious threat of a rupture in the democracy."

When asked about the confrontational discourse of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his government in response to different OAS member countries, including the United States, Insulza guaranteed the union of the organization. "I do not think this rhetoric is likely to disturb or jeopardize union," he said.

The Insulza also affirmed his willingness to formalize "constructive dialog" with Cuba, which has not participated in the Organization of American States since 1962 when relations were suspended. The dialogue would have the purpose of Cuba's re-entry into the regional organization.

Insulza clarified that the situation of Cuba was not an "expulsion" but rather a "suspension" of relations which evidently "has never produced any effect, to the contrary it has caused harm for the civilian population."  For that reason, Insulza considers it time to review the situation after 45 years.

The Second Meeting of Government Spokespeople of OAS Member Countries concluded on Thursday that both freedom of expression and access to public information in Latin America and the Caribbean have made progress, but still have a long way to go.

"Democratic governments should always be ready to be checked by their citizens, as they have to be accountable for their decisions. We should spread the culture of transparency," concluded Insulza.

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