JERUSALEM – The secretary-general of the Organization of American States told EFE during an official visit to Israel that the international community must continue to pressure the Venezuelan regime.
“We’re in a special situation in which we as an international community need to keep applying pressure on the Venezuelan regime and trying to forge democratic solutions within the country,” Luis Almagro said, though adding that the Venezuelan people themselves must bring about a solution to the conflict.
“Venezuela needs a legitimate government,” he added.
Regarding the potential use of the OAS’s Democratic Charter to suspend the Caribbean nation from the organization, Almagro said that possibility was part of “a process of building solutions based on diplomatic undertakings and good offices.”
It is only when those other steps fail that further ones should be taken.
Suspending Venezuela would be a useful step, “a tool that would would have an impact ... an element that adds further pressure,” Almagro said, noting that the South American trade bloc Mercosur chose that option last weekend.
Venezuelans must agree on a way forward to “re-democratize the country, re-institutionalize the country and try to solve its deep political, economic, financial and social crisis,” he said, insisting that the OAS has been offering possible solutions since before the 2015 legislative elections.
Those elections, in which the opposition won a big majority in the unicameral National Assembly, appeared to mark a major turning point in Venezuelan politics, which have been dominated for nearly 20 years by President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.
But the Supreme Court, which is filled with Maduro loyalists, last year stripped the opposition-controlled unicameral legislature of its budgetary authority, saying it was in contempt for seating lawmakers accused of electoral fraud.
The crisis has only deepened this year.
Opposition-led protests stemming in part from a high court decision in March (one that was quickly reversed) to seize the legislature’s remaining powers led to more than 100 deaths and prompted Maduro’s government to call for the creation of a popular assembly to rewrite the constitution.
Maduro says that plenipotentiary body, the National Constituent Assembly, is needed to bring peace to oil-rich Venezuela and resolve its severe economic woes, but the opposition and much of the international community say it will be used to strip away all vestiges of democracy in the country.
Since its inauguration last weekend, the National Constituent Assembly has sacked a key government critic, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz, and issued a ruling stating that its decisions override those of any other constitutional bodies in Venezuela.