Diplomats failed to reach a consensus on how to handle Venezuela’s multifaceted crisis when they met Wednesday, June 1, in Washington.
Representatives from the 34-nation Organization of American States didn’t just disagree on how to intervene with what opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro call a collapse of democracy in the once-prosperous nation, but on whether intervention should happen at all.
The meeting was proposed in late April to discuss the situation in Venezuela, which prompted Venezuela to announce they would be working to withdraw from the OAS.
Venezuela’s representative did not attend the meeting.
Representatives of the US, Peru, Mexico, Canada and Panama put forward a draft declaration calling for an end of violence, release of political prisoners, respect for human rights and rule of law and for Venezuela to seek international humanitarian aid. It also called on the government to end plans to rewrite the constitution.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes argued that democracy is “not a luxury” and asked what the OAS can do to help Venezuelan citizens “rescue their fundamental freedoms.”
Staunch political allies of Maduro and various Caribbean nations opposed the declaration, putting together their own draft that called for the end of violence, but stopping short of other demands.
Nicaraguan diplomat Luis Alvarado called the actions of the OAS “political lynching” and said “nothing can be imposed on the great and sovereign nation of Venezuela.” Bolivia’s Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni Mamani also criticized the OAS, saying it was using “confrontation” and “aggression.”
The representatives decided to continue their discussions at a later date. The next meeting is on June 19 in Mexico.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez confirmed she was authorized by Maduro to attend the June meeting.
Deadly clashes continue
Meanwhile, deadly clashes continue in Venezuela as anti-government protests enter their third month. Nearly 60 are dead as protesters clash with police forces over steep inflation, food and medicine shortages and Maduro’s plans to rewrite the constitution.
Tens of thousands of protesters headed to the Foreign Ministry in downtown Caracas on Wednesday while the OAS met. At least 100 were injured during confrontations with police forces.