Published On: Fri, Apr 28th, 2017

Vexit: Venezuela to quit OAS

Delcy-Rodriguez-VenezuelaWASHINGTON - On Wednesday, the same day that a majority of member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution to convene a meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of the region to consider the situation facing Venezuela, the South American country said it was quitting the bloc in protest at pressure over the government’s handling of the violent political crisis.

Breaking Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) unity on the issue of Venezuela, Saint Lucia voted with 18 other member states in favour of the resolution.

The representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines were among those voting against. Grenada was absent from the meeting.

In a statement on Thursday, Saint Lucia’s foreign minister, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, said her government is concerned about escalating violence and political tension in Venezuela, and the loss of life and the democratic process there.

So far this month, 28 people have been killed, several of them shot, in anti-government protests that have erupted into clashes with riot police.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez said her government would launch a two-year process to pull out of the OAS.

“Tomorrow, as President Nicolas Maduro has instructed, we will present a letter of complaint to the OAS and we will begin a process that will take 24 months,” she said in a televised address.

Rodriguez called the OAS an “interventionist coalition” led by Washington.

“Venezuela will not take part in future in any activity or event where there is an intention to take a position of interventionism or interference,” she said.

Predictably, Cuba issued a statement in support of Venezuela, referring to “another infamous and immoral decision of the discredited OAS”. Cuba was itself excluded from the OAS in 1962 but invited to rejoin in 2009 in “a process of dialogue initiated at the request of the government of Cuba, and in accordance with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS”.

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