The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) will meet next Tuesday to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, paving the way for diplomatic action by the bloc against the Maduro regime. The special session was requested by eighteen OAS member states: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay.
The special meeting follows weeks of scathing rhetoric from OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro against the Maduro regime. In recent days, Almagro has called Venezuela a dictatorship and called on Maduro to hold general elections.
Almagro’s comments were followed yesterday by a joint statement from fourteen OAS member states in which they called on the Maduro regime to immediately release all political prisoners in the country and hold general elections or face suspension from the regional body. The statement came from Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry Luis Viegaray, who lamented the fact that the Maduro regime is overseeing the “systematic violation” of democratic principles in the country.
Tuesday’s extraordinary session could result in increased pressure on the Maduro regime to accept diplomatic intervention from the OAS as per Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, to which Venezuela is a signatory. Another less likely result would be Venezuela’s suspension from the OAS given Maduro regime’s ongoing refusal to restore democratic order in the country, which could occur under Article 21 of the same document.
After news of Tuesday’s meeting broke, Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced that she would fly to the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. to speak at a special session on Monday.
Foreign Affairs Ministry Speaks on Colombia Excursion
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement today adding some detail to a military incursion into Colombia’s Arauca department by soldiers from the National Bolivarian Armed Forces earlier this week. The border crossing was announced by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday, who said that he had spoken to Maduro about the matter.
President Santos said that an undisclosed number of Venezuelan soldiers had “set up camp” in Colombia somewhere along the border with Venezuela’s Apure state.
Today, Foreign Affairs Ministry Delcy Rodriguez spoke on the matter, and suggested that the incursion was accidental. According to Rodriguez, the Venezuelan soldiers inadvertently entered Colombia by crossing the Arauca river, which acts a natural marker for much of the border separating the Arauca department and Apure state. Rodriguez suggested that the soldiers may have simply gotten lost in the area, since the riverbed “changes constantly”.
Rodriguez also assured reporters that the dispute would be settled by “technical diplomatic teams” from both countries, which were expected to meet today.
Hungry Venezuelans Swarm, Loot Food Truck on Highway
A video showing a swarm of people looting a truck carrying food has been making a splash on social media over the past two days. While it is not clear exactly when the video was shot, the man recording it claims that the scene was captured along the Caracas-Valencia highway, near Campo Carabobo.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Man: Good morning, everyone. Look what happened to my country. This is near… just before Campo Carabobo. People are putting sticks, rocks, tires, and everything [on the road], and they’re looting a truck carrying rice. This is incredible. Even the police are carrying bags on rice on their motorcycles. What a disaster. Look at this. Look at the police there. They’re not doing anything [top stop the looting]. They’re shut down the highway.
People are going hungry here, man. And the chavistas say that everything is normal, that nothing is happening here. For the love of God…
Maduro Claims to Have Asked UN For “Help”
Speaking during a televised event in Caracas today, Maduro suggested that he had asked the United Nations for “help” with the country’s ongoing medical meltdown, although it is not exactly clear which entity within the UN he requested the help from, or what what he meant by “help”.
Below, Maduro’s comments along with my translation:
Maduro: … official [document] with some recommendations. I have given the order to vice-president [of Socialist Missions] Elias Jaua and all the ministers from the social field to take this report and listen to the recommendations made by the United Nations. We’re taking them on. I have asked the United Nations for help to heal the economic and social wounds that are hitting our people due to the economic war and the abrupt fall in oil prices last year [sic].
We’ve gained some ground this year, but they [oil prices] are still down, man. But now we’ve learned to do with a little, which is the good thing. They won’t be able to beat us now. Here we are, standing firm in the love of the people with history’s deep roots. Here we are. I have asked for help, Elias. He was present and that was the recommendation. [I have asked for help] to regulate the topic that is medicine…
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