Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has continued Hugo Chavez’s socialist regime since Maduro’s marginal 2013 election win. Recently, demonstrations opposing government policies have increased. Since mid-February of this year, the death toll has reached over 30, with dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests. There are many allegations of Maduro’s security forces practicing crowd brutality, torture, abuse, and detention without sound evidence.
The Organization of American States (OAS) is a regional organization, of 35 independent states, which was established to achieve, “an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.” The OAS uses political dialogue, cooperation, follow up mechanisms etc. to effectively implement its essential purposes, which are based on its main pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and development. This Month, March 2014, Venezuelan lawmaker and opposition leader, Maria Corina Machado was allowed temporary membership to Panama’s delegation in order to attempt to formally address the OAS about the above mentioned alleged human rights abuses.
This attempt to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela was not addressed without high opposition. The majority of the OAS, known allies or clients of Venezuela’s (perhaps because of its prosperous oil reserves), including Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil and many Caribbean countries, supported Venezuela’s attempt to keep these events from being addressed in the OAS. “Member states voted 22 to 11 to bar the media from the day’s session, a rare event for the organization whose meetings are normally open.” Venezuela’s OAS representative, Carmen Luisa Velasquez was one of the votes to keep the session private.
Venezuelan leaders are calling Machado a traitor for requesting the OAS to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This Charter is, “an agreement signed by all member states to defend democracy and human rights throughout the hemisphere . . . [and] calls for possible sanctions against a member if it is determined that democratic processes have been interrupted or are under threat.” Although the United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, Columbia, Paraguay, and Chile all support Machado’s request, it will be difficult to raise the Charter with the OSA so divided.
Maduro is revoking Machado’s parliamentary immunity and she will undoubtedly be arrested if she returns to Venezuela. As a Human Rights Watch director stated, “The credibility of the [OAS] organization is in serious question by any credible observer.”
Organization of American States: http://www.oas.org/en/default.asp
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/americas/venezuela
Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304026304579453831436990584?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304026304579453831436990584.html