WASHINGTON – A group of 13 nations belonging to the Organization of American States, along with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, demanded on Wednesday that Venezuela suspend its constitutional assembly four days before its members are to be elected.
The group, headed by the US and Mexico, called in a joint declaration for the suspension of the process of forming the constitutional assembly because – the group said in the declaration – it would mean the definitive dismantling of democratic institutions and would be contrary to the popular will expressed in the July 16 referendum.
“We have 7.5 million reasons to ask that it not be implemented,” said Almagro, referring to the number of Venezuelans, according to organizers of the referendum, who voted against the measure.
The Uruguayan diplomat also warned that the “illegitimate” constitutional assembly runs the “risk” of increasing the death toll in the country, which already stands at 101 since the start of anti-government protests in April.
The 13-nation declaration was not subjected to a vote – given that it would have required 18 “yes” votes to pass – and was simply read in the Permanent Council by Panamanian Ambassador Jesus Sierra.
The text was signed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the US, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.
The 13 signatory nations belong to the group of 14 countries promoting OAS mediation in the Venezuelan crisis, with Uruguay being the one that refrained from joining the move.
Uruguay’s alternate representative to the OAS, Alvaro Daniel Gallardo, told a small group of reporters, including EFE, that he did not sign the text because of the constitutional assembly “is a mechanism set forth in the Venezuelan Constitution and the Uruguayan government ... cannot (require that) Venezuela not resort to a measure in its Constitution.”
However, Uruguay did support the declaration of the foreign ministers’ meeting in Cancun, Mexico, on June 19, at which the OAS member nations called for “reconsidering the convening of a National Constitutional Assembly as it is currently conceived.”
The OAS meeting on Wednesday was the first session at which the Venezuelan crisis has been discussed after no text on the matter emerged from the Cancun General Assembly, given that certain Caribbean nations had withdrawn their previously-promised support for the measure at the last minute.
The text issued on Wednesday insists on the importance of establishing, as soon as possible, a group or other mechanism to support a process of dialogue and negotiation between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.