O.A.S. rebuke cites threats to Venezuela’s democracy


The Organization of American States said Tuesday that it had begun taking steps against Venezuela to defend democracy in the region, a rare rebuke once reserved for countries undergoing crises like coups. The move by the O.A.S., a United Nations-like group that represents every country in the hemisphere except for Cuba, now starts a process that could eventually lead to Venezuela being suspended from the body, The New York Times reports:

The O.A.S. cited what it called an “alteration of constitutional order” in Venezuela, which it said had “gravely affected” the country’s democracy. Sergio Jellinek, a spokesman for the body’s secretary general, Luis Almagro, said Venezuela now was plagued by “a political system with no outcomes where the government operates by decree.”

By invoking its Democratic Charter the organization effectively began a process of debate that could eventually lead to Venezuela’s suspension. But analysts say the more likely avenue initially will be a series of discussions to break the political stalemate between Mr. Maduro and his opponents who control the National Assembly.

“In Venezuela, the purpose of politics has been lost,” Almagro said in a hard-hitting letter published on Tuesday requesting a permanent council meeting in mid-June to judge Venezuela’s performance vis-a-vis the body’s Inter-American Democratic Charter.

“They have forgotten to defend the general and collective long-term good, over short-term individual gain … Immoral politics loses this vision because its only interest is staying in power.”

“There has been an erosion of democracy on so many levels this year,” said Shannon K. O’Neil, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations…..Dr. O’Neil said Tuesday’s events had implications not just for Venezuela, but also for the O.A.S., which she says has taken the role of a democratic watchdog under Mr. Almagro.

“Almagro from the beginning has been adamant about this: The one thing the O.A.S. does that no other body does in his mind is defend democracy,” she said. “That’s why he has taken such a hard line.”

With soaring poverty and crime, with thousands of protestors in the streets, with the country on the verge of a civil war, it is time for some clarity about the root problems in Venezuela, adds Paul J. Bonicelli, Professor of Government at Regent University, and served as the Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United States Agency for International Development. In 2016, the answer to the kinds of problems Venezuela is enduring is human freedom, not technocratic tinkering, he writes for Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government.

For Moises Naim, a former board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Caracas Chronicles’ Francisco Toro, “The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement…….; institutional destruction….. ; nonsense policy-making …….lain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).”

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