OAS’s Almagro Threatens to Apply Democratic Charter against Venezuela
Jonas Holldack (VA) : Wading into the heated standoff between the Venezuelan Supreme Court and the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the general-secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has demanded that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reverse a recent high court ruling suspending four legislators from Amazonas state over alleged voting irregularities.
In a public letter addressed to the head of state, Almagro called the decision by Venezuela’s highest judicial body a “direct blow to the people’s will”, accusing the Bolivarian government of filling the Supreme Court, the CNE, and other institutions “on the basis of party politics”.
The Uruguayan general-secretary went on note that the situation “puts at risk the balance between state powers,” demanding that the high court ruling be overridden.
Should the Bolivarian government fail to restore “the balance of powers” and “respect for the will of the electorate”, Almagro warned, Venezuela could be expelled from OAS under the regional body’s democratic charter.
The comments are not the first time that the OAS chief has challenged Venezuela’s democratic credentials.
In the leadup to the South American country’s December 6 elections, Almagro questioned the fairness of Venezuela’s internationally renowned electoral system, fueling unfounded rumors of fraud circulated in the international press which were later silenced by President Maduro’s immediate recognition of the landslide opposition victory.
The declarations by the OAS general-secretary were roundly dismissed by Venezuela’s socialist opposition parliamentary bloc.
“The OAS has no place meddling in Venezuela… it’s an organization totally lacking in legitimacy,” asserted PSUV legislator and former National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.
“It [the OAS] should worry about what is happening in Argentina these days,” he added, referring to the multilateral body’s silence over newly elected right-wing President Mauricio Macri’s expansive use of emergency decree powers, which have been challenged as unconstitutional.
Following past legislative elections on December 6, the Socialist Party (PSUV) published audio evidence of an alleged member of the Amazonas State Government offering large amounts of money to buy votes.
This audio and other evidence has led the Supreme Court to temporarily suspend the four representatives of Amazonas State– three opposition and one socialist– pending investigations, a move which leaves the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) just short of a super-majority in parliament.
Last week, Venezuela’s new opposition National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup rejected the Supreme Court decision and proceeded to swear-in the suspended deputies, leading the high court to declare all laws enacted by the legislative body “null and void”.
Jonas Holldack, Venezuelanalysis