The mind-boggling audacity of some OAS members against Venezuela

Nino Pagliccia

26 March 2017

It is with great contempt that I question the report of March 14 by Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), accusing Venezuela of human rights abuses and of holding political prisoners, further demanding that Venezuela hold elections in 30 days.

Forget the international principle of no intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country (also recognized by the OAS) that Almagro lightly overlooks by invoking the OAS Democracy Charter. Forget that he invokes the OAS Inter American Democratic Charter by using false unproven accusations that are clearly aligned with the U.S. policy against Venezuela. My contempt is multiplied 14 times by observing the meek consent of 14 members of the OAS to the accusations against Venezuela. It is only 14 out of the 35 OAS member states. Not enough to suspend Venezuela if it came to a vote. Yet, their audacity and bias is mind-boggling.

All those 14 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States of America and Uruguay) have one thing in common. No, it’s not that they belong to the OAS. It is their rightwing neoliberal ideology! Some of them have newly acquired their "right" to govern that has resulted in major social revolts, protests and economic upturns, well worth the OAS reaction.

For example, the OAS has grossly ignored Brazil's Michel Temer takeover in a so-called parliamentary coup last year when he himself is now being accused of corruption. Paraguay also used the "soft coup" approach to gain power.

What is more damning for democracy than a government’s disregard for the well-being of its own people while at the same time the moral standing of those leaders is questioned by the people? My answer: it is the backstabbing disregard by the peer countries after a hardly won legitimate democracy. 

Venezuela has taken an independent path towards social justice and progress for its people that has shown to succeed in reducing poverty, increasing educational level and improving health, at times much more than in some of the 14 countries that question Venezuela. The United Nations has just recognized Venezuela as one of the countries with a good human development index above Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Those are the values that the OAS should promote and encourage.

Venezuela’s social advances have occurred within a legitimate constitutional democratic process – one chosen by the people in their own sovereign right – that do not infringe in the main goals of cooperation and co-existence established by the OAS.

But there lies the problem. Venezuela’s progress has been promoted by the late president Hugo Chavez as “socialism of the 21st century” with the goal of building a truly independent (from the U.S.) Latin America as the Patria Grande envisioned by Simón Bolívar. To top it all, this progress has proudly been called “Bolivarian Revolution”.  That is too much to take by the insecure U.S. government and its co-opted cronies.

As it has occurred in the past with another revolution that resulted in the exclusion of Cuba from the OAS in 1962 (revoked in 2009), Venezuela sets a “bad” example that needs to be snuffed promptly.

The U.S. government has marked the way and repeatedly attempted to undermine Venezuela through sanctions (including a serious one against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami) and similar accusations parroted now by all 14 partners in deed. Particularly unexpected is the open protest by Mexico, usually a neutral country. Mexico’s alignment may be trying to prevent the U.S. building its border wall, but it may contribute to building a political wall with other Latin American countries.

Let's remember that the OAS was established in 1948 with 19 Latin American states, Haiti and … the forever-present U.S. with headquarters in … Washington. This happened at about the same time when the UN was established. Today we are sadly witnessing how the UN has become a dysfunctional organization controlled by U.S. and Zionist interests. I am not mincing words when I say this. There is plenty of evidence. It is sad to see the OAS becoming another servant organization.

But what sealed the fate of the OAS is the infamous Inter American Democratic Charter (IADC) adopted on September 11, 2001 in Lima, Peru. The Charter was quickly concocted based on a "democracy clause" passed at the OAS meeting held in Quebec, Canada in April 2001.

In that short 5-month span of time the straight jacket of the IADC was put on the people of the Americas to be tightened whenever the oligarchy of the member states feel threatened, or to be loosened when the oligarchy chooses to turn a blind eye to obvious abuses against the Charter. There are abundant examples.

How many times has the following IADC preamble been rendered empty as a consequence of killings of union leaders and other workers? "RECOGNIZING that the right of workers to associate themselves freely for the defense and promotion of their interests is fundamental to the fulfillment of democratic ideals." Has the OAS lifted its collective finger condemning the member states perpetrators of such crimes?

Or take the following Article 12: “Poverty, illiteracy, and low levels of human development are factors that adversely affect the consolidation of democracy. The OAS member states are committed to adopting and implementing all those actions required to generate productive employment, reduce poverty, and eradicate extreme poverty, taking into account the different economic realities and conditions of the countries of the Hemisphere. This shared commitment regarding the problems associated with development and poverty also underscores the importance of maintaining macroeconomic equilibria and the obligation to strengthen social cohesion and democracy.

Should not Venezuela be praised for succeeding in these goals with international recognition? Instead, Venezuela is being punished by the U.S. persistent attempt to break both the “macroeconomic equilibria” and the “social cohesion” of the country with its unrelenting drive for regime change.

But I have to make a short reference to Canada, which became a member of the OAS in 1990. Canada has felt the obligation to be one of the 14 states to issue a Declaration on Venezuela. The Canadian government has taken a very typical ambiguous Liberal position. First, it’s very careful to say, “suspension of a Member State, as established in the Inter American Democratic Charter is a measure of last resort and all diplomatic efforts shall be pursued within a reasonable amount of time, before that decision is taken.” Then, without explanation, it proceeds to call for “the establishment of an electoral calendar that includes the postponed elections.” And Almagro had already stated: else Venezuela should be suspended. Canada must review its own democratic stand and political allegiance.

Let it be clear, all 14 states seem to have agreed on the issue of “postponed elections”, which is an improbable occurrence of coincidence. There has been no attempt to clarify or to understand the nature of, and reasons for a postponement of elections by any of those states. I will not try to explain or interpret the reasons. Those may have something to do with the failed recall process initiated by the opposition that took most of the year 2016; or maybe with the constant unreasonable pressure that the opposition puts on the government; or maybe with the social and economic crisis that the opposition causes; or even maybe with the daunting task of having to supervise and process the registration of 59 (!!) political organizations all claiming their democratic right to elections. However, it is important to mention that these are elections to State Governors, not presidential elections.

It is ironic that the same Venezuelan opposition that has been adamant in pushing for unscheduled elections with their recall process, in its attempt to overturn the Nicolás Maduro government (which may have caused the current delay), is now invoking an “undue” electoral process for State elections. Some member states of the OAS, including Canada, fail to see the danger of this “irony”. They give the Venezuelan opposition a strong pat on their back but they may also be giving a stab in the back of the OAS.

Elections are indeed established by the Venezuelan constitution as they are in any democratic country. They were held and recognized even when the rightwing opposition gained more seats in the National Assembly in 2015. Next presidential elections are constitutionally scheduled for April 2018. Everything seems to indicate that it will happen.  

As for the “establishment of an electoral calendar”, it is my understanding that the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) has already informed of an upcoming calendar as of last October: “Regional elections are anticipated for the end of the first semester of 2017 and municipal elections for the second semester.” (http://www.cne.gob.ve/web/sala_prensa/noticia_detallada.php?id=3482) Isn’t the OAS overreacting threatening with Venezuela’s suspension? Is this of the same order of magnitude as the coup in Honduras in 2009 that correctly prompted the suspension of the country from the OAS? Isn’t this an internal matter that Venezuelans must address in due process? Any foreign imposition is rightly considered an illegal intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country.

At the time of this writing Venezuelan foreign minister, Delcy Rodríguez, requested and was granted the right to address the OAS Permanent Council in the next few days. In a tweet (in Spanish) she gives us a glimpse of what she will say: “What do they pretend? Attack Venezuela? We will denounce these actions country by country. We will not permit any aggression against our sacred Homeland.”

 

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Nino Pagliccia

NINO PAGLICCIA has two Master’s Degrees from Stanford University and is a retired researcher on Canada-Cuba collaborative projects at the University of British Columbia. He has published many peer-reviewed journal articles and has contributed chapters to books on topics about Cuba, the Cuban healthcare system and solidarity. He has been a long-time activist and has organized groups to do voluntary work in Cuba for almost 15 years.

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