The OAS punts on Venezuela
A remarkable thing almost happened in Washington this past week. The Organization of American States nearly became relevant to the ongoing political turmoil in Venezuela following Hugo Chávez’s missed inauguration. Alas, it was not to be — as apparently the only thing that stirs Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, a Chilean socialist, to action is when fellow leftists are removed from power for their abuses (see Honduras, 2007).
Indeed, making matters worse, the diplomat who tried to rouse the organization on Venezuela wound up getting fired by his government for his temerity.
Panamanian representative to the OAS Guillermo Cochez took to the floor last week to criticize Insulza’s supine reaction to recent events in Venezuela, including the decision of the Chávez-packed Supreme Court to overrule their constitution and delay the president’s swearing-in for his new term in office, since no one has seen or heard from Chávez in more than a month. (He is believed to be in Cuba, convalescing from a reported fourth cancer surgery. Nominally in charge, but resting on no constitutional basis, is Chávez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro.)
Citing the lack of transparency on Chávez’s health and lack of independent institutions in the country, Cochez called Venezuela “a sick democracy.” He said that if the OAS was not going to be concerned about whether events there were in compliance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter (to which Venezuela is a signatory), then the organization ought to be shut down.
Predictably, the Venezuelan representative responded with vitriol, calling Cochez’s remarks “an aggression” and insulting him as mentally unstable and “a jerk.”
The session was quickly adjourned, as no one witnessing wanted to be further splattered by typical chavista mud-slinging, although not before the Canadian envoy suggested sending an OAS delegation to Venezuela to evaluate the situation.
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