The Organization of American States (OAS) held an emergency session of its permanent council today in which it debated the worsening crisis in Venezuela. At the end of the session, the OAS approved a resolution formally recognizing a break in the country’s constitutional order stemming from last week’s Supreme Court decisions against the National Assembly.
At the end of the heated session that saw the Venezuelan representative on the council storm off mid-debate, Secretary General called the vote “a very important step” towards restoring democracy in the country.
When it came time to vote for the resolution, 21 countries were present in the council chamber. The following 15 countries voted to approve the resolution: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States. Bahamas, Belize, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador abstained.
In the resolution, the OAS calls on the Venezuelan government to “ensure the full restoration of democratic order” in the country. While acknowledging the Supreme Court’s about-turn on the two decisions on Saturday, the resolution appears to ignore the move as insufficient evidence that Venezuela is turning towards democracy again.
CP/RES. 1078 (2108/17)
RESOLUTION ON THE RECENT EVENTS IN VENEZUELA
(Adopted by the Permanent Council at its session held on April 3, 2017)
THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES,
REITERATING the principles and recalling the mechanisms established in the Charter of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Democratic Charter on the strengthening and preservation of the democratic institutional system in member states;
REAFFIRMING that the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms are a basic prerequisite for the existence of a democratic society;
REAFFIRMING also that separation of powers and independence of the branches of government are essential elements of representative democracy;
EXPRESSING our grave concern regarding the unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and our continuous support for dialogue and negotiation to lead to a peaceful restoration of democratic order,
- The decisions of the Supreme Court of Venezuela to suspend the powers of the National Assembly and to arrogate them to itself are inconsistent with democratic practice and constitute an alteration of the constitutional order of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Notwithstanding the recent revision of some elements of these decisions, it is essential that the Government of Venezuela ensures the full restoration of democratic order.
To urge action by the Venezuelan government to safeguard the separation and independence of powers and to restore full constitutional authority to the National Assembly.
To stand ready to support measures to return to democratic order through the effective exercise of democracy and rule of law within the Venezuelan constitutional framework.
To remain seized of the situation in Venezuela and to undertake as necessary further diplomatic initiatives to foster the restoration of the democratic institutional system, in accordance with the Charter of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
While largely symbolic, today’s resolution is the strongest condemnation of the Maduro regime to come out of the OAS. The resolution will also likely prove to be an important step in any further action the OAS decides to take in Venezuela, including suspending the country from the organization.
Venezuela Storms Out of Debate
The Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, Samuel Moncada, stormed out of today’s permanent council session after unsuccessfully attempting to stop the debate from taking place.
Before leaving the debate, Moncada said that the OAS “stimulating violence in Venezuela”, and criticized the body from talking about Venezuela without his permission. Moncada took particular offense at the Argentinian delegation, saying:
You [the OAS] have committed a gross violation since we’ve seen the Argentinian representative talking about Venezuelan affairs without our permission.
As in previous occassions, the Venezuelan delegation before the OAS argued today that the organization could not initiate a debate about the country without first seeking permission from Venezuela.
Moncada lashed out at the OAS throughout his intervention today, accusing the organization of attempting to destabilize Venezuela “which is calm right now”, and of fabricating the crisis. Moncada said:
You’re imagining something that doesn’t exist in reality in order to promote an intervention in Venezuela.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to news of the resolution almost immediately upon its passing by issuing a press release condemning the move. The release takes particular issue with the fact that the debate took place after Bolivia, which holds the presidency pro tempore of the council, had left the chamber having cancelled the meeting. Once Bolivia had left, Honduras took over the proceeding and initiated the debate.
Part of the release reads:
A group of governments has unbelievably chosen to usurp the powers of the President of the Permanent Council through legal trickery which is patently false, in its obsession to impose an illegal and deeply unjust plan to re-install a fascist hegemony in Venezuela in order to dominate the continent.
We categorically reject these actions as a flagrant aggression against the institutionality of the Organization and as a regression to the dark interventionist past of the OAS. This sacred, sovereign, free and independent land will never again submit to imperial powers or its lackeys.
COPEI Leader Arrested, Charged with Treason
The head of the COPEI party, Roberto Enriquez, became the 117th political prisoner in Venezuela today after he was arrested by agents from the Military Counterintelligence Directorate. Enriquez is accused of treason and rebellion.
Enriquez is scheduled to appear before a military tribunal in the coming days.
The use of military tribunals to try civilians has become a relatively common tactic under the Maduro regime.
Opposition Deputy Suffers Broken Rib in Scuffle; Another Suffers Gash on Forehead
A protest outside the People’s Defender office in Caracas staged by members of the Primero Justicia opposition party turned violent when a pro-government group attacked the demonstrators.
During the brawl, deputy Jose Brito suffered a broken rib. Below, an image of an x-ray showing the broken rib:
The video below show Requesens in the moments after he sustained the injury:
Below, an image of Requesens’ injury taken at a local medical centre:
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