OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro
By Caribbean News Now contributor
WASHINGTON, USA -- The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday called on members to suspend Venezuela from the hemispheric group, citing the country’s continued political crisis and failure to hold elections.
In a new 73-page report, Luis Almagro said attempts at diplomacy “had not produced any progress” since his first detailed report on May 30, 2016, outlining the crisis in Venezuela.
The Permanent Council of the OAS had convened an urgent session pursuant to the Inter-American Democratic Charter on June 23, 2016, to discuss the content of the earlier report; however, no decision was reached on that occasion.
“Since that discussion, members of the Permanent Council, citizens of the Americas and the international community have all witnessed Venezuela spiral further and further into its acute economic, social, political and humanitarian crisis,” Almagro noted.
“The facts have become clear. Venezuela is in violation of every article in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Democracy and human rights are values that must be above politics and the task before us is to support Venezuela and restore the rights of the people,” he continued.
In a scathing indictment of the Maduro regime, Almagro reported, among many other troubling issues:
• The people of Venezuela are faced with a government that is no longer accountable.
• The Constitution no longer has any meaning.
• The rule of law no longer exists in Venezuela; it has been eliminated by a judiciary under the complete control of the executive branch that has invalidated every law passed by the National Assembly along with its constitutional powers. It has also invalidated the rights of the people, particularly their electoral rights.
• Citizens are unable to assert their rights. If the government wishes to imprison them, it does so; if it wishes to torture them, it does so. If the government chooses, it does not bring them before a judge; if it chooses, it does not bring formal charges.
• Citizens have been left entirely at the mercy of an authoritarian regime that denies them their most basic rights.
• Corruption is rampant and the economy is in a free fall.
• There is not enough food, health services are extremely scarce and the humanitarian crisis is at a scale unheard of in the Western Hemisphere.
• Civil and political rights are ignored, all for the sake of preserving the wealth, privilege and impunity of those holding onto power.
• The Venezuelan government has turned its constitution into a meaningless piece of paper, and the voice of the Venezuelan people has been silenced, imprisoned while corruption and narco-trafficking has spread throughout the country.
• The Venezuelan government has demonstrated a systematic pattern of abuse against those who dare to express an opinion contrary to that of the government.
• The political crisis has resulted in a structural dysfunctionality.
• Venezuela's business environment ranks as one of the worst in the world, only surpassed by Eritrea, Libya and South Sudan in the World Bank's Doing Business Report.
He called for a full general election in Venezuela without delay that is free, fair and transparent; an election that meets all international standards and therefore includes international observation that satisfies the accepted requirements for international election observations standards.
“I believe that if general elections are not held in accordance with the stipulated conditions, it would be necessary to suspend Venezuela from the activities of the Organization, pursuant to Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” Almagro said.
The Democratic Charter has been invoked seven times by member states and Article 21 triggered once, in the case of a coup d'état.
Article 21 states: ¨When the special session of the General Assembly determines that there has been an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order of a member state, and that diplomatic initiatives have failed, the special session shall take the decision to suspend said member state from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the member states in accordance with the Charter of the OAS. The suspension shall take effect immediately. The suspended member state shall continue to fulfill its obligations to the Organization, in particular its human rights obligations.”
“Regional solidarity cannot come at the cost of human rights abuses and the destruction of democratic institutions. In fact, the exact opposite is true. In each of these cases, all member states cooperated to support the affected state reinforcing that the Democratic Charter strengthens the principle of regional solidarity,” Almagro noted.
Read the full report here