OAS head supports call to remove Venezuela president; Venezuela calls it a coup
WASHINGTON – General Secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro has called on the hemispheric body to support a recall referendum to remove Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro from office.
But that Caribbean nation’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has accused fellow OAS members of trying to stage a coup to overthrow a legitimate government.
In a report to representatives from the 34-member bloc yesterday, Almagro painted a picture of suffering, chaos and crises in all areas of life in Venezuela. He also highlighted the shortages of food and other basic goods which have led to riots, and the opposition demands for a recall referendum to get rid of Maduro.
“What should be one of the wealthiest countries in the region is facing unprecedented levels of poverty, a critical humanitarian crisis and one of the highest violent crime rates in the world…This crisis is reaching a breaking point,” Almagro said, adding that the blame for it all rests squarely on the shoulders of those in power.
He urged the Permanent Council to agree that Venezuela has violated the principles in the organization’s Inter-American Democratic Charter.
“The Permanent Council should take the necessary steps to address the unprecedented and unnecessary humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The Permanent Council should take a stand on the political prisoners and the persistent reports of torture. The Permanent Council should support the will of the Venezuela public in their call for a recall referendum. The Permanent Council must act.”
The OAS head made several recommendations, including that: the recall referendum be held before the end of 2016, in compliance with the deadline after the collecting of signatures of 90 days, would still provide time so it could be held this year; all political prisoners be released immediately; the executive and legislative branches of the Venezuelan government put aside their differences and immediately start working together to respond to the humanitarian crisis; all branches of government work together to bring stability and security back to the country; a new Supreme Court of Justice be appointed through a transparent process jointly agreed upon by the Executive and the Legislative branches of government; and an independent body to combat corruption, composed of international experts, be created and empowered to address the financial situation in Venezuela.
But the Venezuelan Foreign Minister harshly criticized Almagro and those who had come down on her country, and argued they were meddling in affairs they have no right in.
“This is a coup that is being carried out in this organization to overcome the legitimate government of Nicolás Maduro,” Rodriguez said. “How far will we go? What precedents will we set?”
She further charged that Almagro was manipulating the OAS to attack Venezuela – “a clear infringement of the rules of this organization”.
“You are using this organization to twist the arms of the countries that are not subjective, but Venezuela will not subject itself to the instructions of any foreign government,” Rodriguez declared.