Last night, Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro released a follow-up report on the Venezuelan crisis complimenting a report published on May 30 of last year. The follow-up report contains a number of recommendations that the OAS believes are necessary for overcoming the country’s political crisis and putting Venezuela back on the path towards democracy.
Below, a summary of the recommendations in Almagro’s report:
- The recall referendum that the Maduro regime cancelled last year should be allowed to take place as soon as possible.
- Every one of the country’s political prisoners should be released.
- The executive and judicial branches should collaborate to “immediately” work towards solving the “violation of basic rights like the access to food and health services”.
- The executive and judicial branches should work together in order to help improve security in the country, specially that against violent crime and drug trafficking.
- The executive branch should restore the balance of powers in the country as outlined in the constitution.
- The executive and legislative branches should work together to appoint a new set of magistrates to the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) given the fact that the current TSJ is “completely devoid… of political impartiality”.
- The regime should allow an “international team of experts”, including members of the United Nations and the OAS, to help the country battle rampant corruption.
- The regime should allow for the creation of a Truth Commission, which would be created under the auspices of the office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.
At the same time, the report calls for Venezuela to hold “general elections as soon as possible” and to allow international observers to participate in the event to help guarantee a free and fir process. On the importance of these elections, the report says:
These elections are essential for allowing Venezuela to return to democracy and the rule of law, as well as for allowing the country to implement the social, financial and economic solutions that it needs. The existence of authorities legitimized through a democratic process will grant the country the ability to receive the financial help that it needs to restart its productive sector, specially the oil industry.
The report also states that if Venezuela does not hold “free, fair and transparent elections” as soon as possible:
… then the moment would come to suspend Venezuela from the Organization in accordance with Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter allows for any member nation of the OAS to be suspended from the organization if there has been “a break in the constitutional order” of the country, and if diplomatic measures have proven ineffective at restoring that order.
The report ends with a personal message from Almagro, part of which reads:
The people of Venezuelan can continue to count on the OAS and its Secretary General. From my position as Secretary General, I reiterate my offer to work together [with any willing party] to repair the democratic fabric of the country and to establish cooperative programs when it comes to humanitarian and social aid, to fight corruption, [and to help with] every other issue that becomes urgent and necessary.
Rodriguez to Almagro: We’re Watching You
Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez reacted to Luis Almagro’s report early this afternoon, calling the secretary general “evil” and accusing him of “attacking” Venezuela.
Without addressing any of the report’s substantive arguments, Rodriguez launched a thinly-veiled threat at Almagro, saying:
Mr. Almagro: We are watching your every step. We know every step that you take. We can tell the people of our country that Mr. Almagro has been defeated inside the OAS, because the majority of the country in our region know of Venezuela’s value. They know the value, peace and stability that our country brings to the whole region.
Rodriguez also said that Almagro was a “shadowy figure” that was working with Venezuela’s foreign and domestic enemies – including “extremists in Miami” – to undermine the Maduro regime. She did not provide any evidence for the claim.
Imports Down 21.6% in January
The Torino Capital financial firm revealed today that imports to Venezuela from 12 “commercial associates” fell by 21.6% in January compared to the same month last year. The figure is significant because the overwhelming majority of food, medicine and other basic necessities consumed by Venezuelans come from imports.
The firm also said that the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) is “incapable” of spending money at the same rate as it did last year, given the country’s dwindling foreign reserves. At the same time, the firm said that according to internal figures, Venezuela’s “galloping” inflation rate was showing signs that it was slowing down, perhaps saving the country from entering a hyperinflation spiral.
Tintori Banned from Entering Ecuador
Human rights activist Lilian Tintori was turned away at customs and immigration in Ecuador’s Guayaquil airport early this morning, after travelling to the country to speak on the Venezuelan crisis. Tintori was denied entry into the country by customs officials and deported via the next flight back to Venezuela.
Tintori claims that she was prevented from entering the country on direct orders of President Rafael Correa. Correa is one of the few outspoken supporters of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, and was a close ally of Hugo Chavez.
Ecuador is holding a run-off presidential election on April 2. Voters will decide between Lenin Moreno and Guillermo Lasso. Moreno -who belongs to the party headed by Correa- won the February 19 election, but was shy of the 40% threshold he needed to cement his victory, necessitating the April 2 runoff.
Below, a video of Tintori explaining the situation:
Tintori: Wednesday, March 15. 6:10 AM. I am in the Guayaquil airport. It’s been five hours since they took my passport from me and told me that they could not allow me to enter the country. I’ve been expelled from Ecuador by [President] Rafael Correa. In immigration, they told me that this was an “order from above”. When I asked who the order came from, they told me it was from Rafael Correa. This is a violation against my human rights and the human rights of Ecuadorians. Now I’m on my way to the airplane that I have to take.
The video below was recorded as Tintori entered the airplane that took her back to Venezuela:
Tintori: I’m on my way out. I’ve been expelled from Ecuador, but I leave with my head held high because I’m going to continue to fight for the human rights of my country, Venezuela, and those of Ecuador. On April 2, you’ll have the opportunity to [vote for] change. Change is coming. [I wish you] lots of strength and faith! I love you! I’ll be back!
Allup: Regime Hoping to Hold “Mega-Election” in 2018
National Assembly deputy Henry Ramos Allup said in a television interview today on the Globovision network that he believes that the Maduro regime will wait until 2018 to hold “mega-elections” for every branch of government including the office of the president. Allup said that the regime’s strategy is based on the hope that the situation in the country will somehow improve by then, giving the regime a chance to gain popularity and cash in at the polls.
On the fact that regional elections that should have taken place last year were cancelled, Allup said:
[The regime] is permanently eluding the only mechanism for the substitution of government that the [Inter-American Democratic Charter] and our own internal laws allow for, which are elections. In the case of the gubernatorial elections, which should have taken place last December, [Maduro] continues to stretch them out, placing roadblocks, so-called requirements that had to be taken care of like the renewal of parties, etc. The government’s intention is to continue to stretch out the elections and not hold them at all, because the government knows that when they do hold them – be they for governor, mayors of president – they will lose.
Allup continued by saying:
I’m not saying that I have evidence for this, but my sense of smell and perception tell me that what the government is looking for is to hold a mega election close to 2018.
Allup explained that he believes that the regime is hoping that oil prices will rise before then, giving the country a much needed injection of cash. He also said that he believes that the regime is making a mistake if this is indeed its plan, since the damage that it has suffered through mismanagement and corruption “is beyond repair”..
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