Venezuela: President Maduro's government to withdraw from OAS as death toll in violent protests rises to 29
Apr 27, Caracas: Venezuela says it will withdraw from Organization of American States (OAS), accusing the Washington-based grouping of meddling in its internal affairs.
According to reports,the government had made the announcement after the OAS voted to hold a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the spiralling crisis in Venezuela.
Violent protests against the government continued in the capital Caracas on Wednesday, since the wave of protests against President Nicolas Maduro began last month, the Venezuelan security forces have fired scores of tear gas volleys and turned water cannons on rock-throwing protesters, as the death toll from this month's anti-government unrest hit at least 29.
The decision came amid a month of huge protests against Maduro’s rule that have involved looting and attacks on demonstrators and security forces. At least 26 people have died, according to human rights groups, including a 20-year-old man who the authorities say was killed during a demonstration on Wednesday.
The O.A.S.had last year invoked its Democratic Charter against Venezuela, citing an “alteration of the constitutional order” there. In the months that followed,Maduro’s powers increased, and the organization’s demands became louder.
On March 29, the Supreme Court, controlled by loyalists of the president, dissolved the National Assembly and assumed lawmaking powers for itself. The ruling was described by the O.A.S. secretary general, Luis Almagro, as “a self-inflicted coup.”
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Mr. Almagro — who had warned that Venezuela faced suspension from the organization — said that in order to withdraw, the country would have to wait two years and pay a debt of $8.7 million under O.A.S. rules.
David Smilde, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, said the two-year departure window meant the organization could continue to discuss Venezuela, regardless of whether it was planning to quit. He noted that the rupture came after years in which Venezuela accused the O.A.S. of being a pawn of Washington and tried to undermine it by establishing alternative regional bodies.
“But symbolically, this is important,” Mr. Smilde added, saying it showed that Venezuela’s neighbors were losing patience.
The Oslo Times International News Network