Thu, Jun 07, 2018 - Page 7 News List

OAS adopts resolution that could suspend Venezuela


The Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday narrowly adopted a resolution that could trigger a process for suspending Venezuela at a later date if enough votes are gathered.

The resolution sponsored by the US, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru was adopted with 19 votes in favor, four against and 11 abstentions after prolonged negotiations during the organization’s General Assembly meeting in Washington. The number of votes required was 18.

The resolution was adopted a day after US Vice President Mike Pence had asked officials from 22 countries to begin the process of suspending Venezuela from membership and participation in the OAS.

“The OAS must stand for freedom. And now is the time,” Pence said on Monday night.

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza responded by saying the officials from the countries who voted in favor “cannot call [Pence] today and tell him ‘mission accomplished.’ There are only 19 votes.”

US Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo acknowledged that 19 was still far from the 24 votes required to launch a process that could end in a suspension of Venezuela, but he said that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro “only has three friends.”

Arreaza said the resolution opens the door to all options, including a military intervention.

“Whoever supported this resolution also supports the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela,” he said. “It is up to your conscience.”

The resolution calls on member states to implement political and economic measures “to assist in the restoration of democratic order in Venezuela.”

The document also declares that the victory of Maduro in last month’s presidential election lacks legitimacy, a position already adopted separately by at least 15 countries in the Western Hemisphere.

It is the strongest statement adopted so far by the countries of the OAS about the Venezuelan crisis since its secretary-general said in 2016 that the South American country had suffered “grave alterations of democratic order.”

At last year’s General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico, foreign ministers were unable to get enough votes for a strongly worded proposal calling on the Venezuelan government to reconsider its call for an assembly to rewrite the constitution and to respect the separation of powers.

OAS members have kicked out only two nations before.

Cuba was expelled in 1962 and Honduras was suspended briefly following a 2009 military coup.

The ban of Cuba was lifted in 2009, but it rejected rejoining the group.

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