Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 25th 2017 Contents the other 33 member-states of the OAS.
The opposition parties have found
their greatest supporter in Secre-
tary-General Almagro whose public
statements against the Venezuelan
government has become more strident
and vitriolic over the last year.
But, by adopting what is now re-
garded as an entirely partisan stance,
Mr Almagro has deprived the OAS of
playing any role as mediator or honest
broker in the Venezuelan situation.
Because of his unauthorised actions,
the government of Venezuela distrusts
the organisation and refuses to coun-
tenance any participation by it in the
Undoubtedly, Mr Almagro's tox-
ic statements about the Venezuelan
government, are motivated by his own
personal feelings. But, he is the Sec-
retary-General of an Organisation of
34 member states and his public state-
ments cannot be divorced from his role
as a hemispheric civil servant.
That is a fundamental
principle above which
of any organisation---
should set himself or herself.
Further, as Secretary-General, Mr
Almagro's task should be to douse the
fires of conflicts; not to fan the flames.
Yet, in Venezuela that is precisely
what he has been doing. Within the
OAS itself, as Secretary-General, Mr
Almagro should be working overtime
to build a consensus about Venezuela
among all member states; instead he
has sat back, making no attempt to
bridge divides among member coun-
tries about an appropriate response
to the Venezuelan situation from the
Organisation as a whole.
Almagro is a former foreign minister
of Uruguay and his own former Presi-
dent, Jose "Pepe" Mujica, who would
know him better than many, has stated
publicly that "what Almagro is doing
from the OAS is a danger, not only for
Venezuela, but for the entire conti-
On May 17, amid frenzied activity by
the representatives of the OAS member
states to try to agree on a Meeting of
Consultation by ministerial represent-
atives to discuss Venezuela as a "prob-
lem of an urgent nature and of com-
, Mr Almagro pre-empted
the purpose and outcome of any such
meeting, slated for May 31, by stating
"We must get past the notion that
dialogue or mediation is a solution to
the crisis in Venezuela"
In a letter to the President of the
European Parliament, Mr Almagro
presented what he, in his individu-
al wisdom, believes should be done.
This includes, "targeted sanctions"
that would "increase the pressure on
the regime to restore the Constitutional
order and hold elections"
His statement is an attempt to corner
the representatives of member states
and to frame the parameters of their
discussion and decisions.
From all this, it should be obvious
that the Secretary-General has com-
promised the Organisation's construc-
tive role in Venezuela. In doing so, he
has not helped the cause of any party in
Venezuela; he has served only to harden
the position on both sides. He has also
weakened the integrity and authority
of the OAS.
At the very least, if they are to salvage
any credibility at all, the representatives
of the member states should disasso-
ciate themselves from Mr Almagro's
remarks and remind him of his role as
set out in Article 118 of the OAS Charter
which states that, in the performance
of his duties, the Secretary-General
"shall refrain from any action that may
be incompatible with (his) position as
(an) international officer responsible
only to the Organisation"
Beyond this, all the member states
have to recall the architecture of the
OAS that guides their conduct.
A pillar of that architecture is Article
1 which states, in unequivocal language,
that none of the provisions of its charter
"authorises it to intervene in matters
that are within the internal jurisdic-
tions of the member states"
In other words, the first task of the
member states of the OAS, should
have been to secure the agreement of
the government of Venezuela and the
opposition parties for a role by the OAS.
That would not have been easy. It is
the hard graft that constitutes meas-
ured diplomacy and it entails building
confidence all around. But it was---and
When I led an OAS delegation to Haiti
in February 2016 at the height of a con-
stitutional crisis that could have led to
great violence, it was at the invitation
of the President and amid deep suspi-
cion by opposition parties that had to
Confidence building, trust, allaying
of fears and encouraging patriotic duty
by all parties was part of the process.
If the May 31 ministerial Meeting
of Consultation takes place, those are
the elements that every country should
advocate; they are also the elements
to which all the parties in Venezuela
should respond positively.
(The writer is Antigua and Barbuda's
Ambassador to the US and the OAS. He
is also a senior fellow at the Institute
of Commonwealth Studies at the
University of London and Massey
College in the University of Toronto.
The views expressed are his own)
BG20 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MAY 25 • 2017
OAS compromised by
tion of American
States (OAS) has
lost credibility as
a multilateral in-
of contributing to a resolution of
the growing conflict in Venezue-
la. There are two reasons for this.
The primary one is the hostile
behaviour toward the Venezuelan
government by the Secretary-Gen-
eral, Luis Almagro. The other is
the strong position, adopted by
a handful but powerful group of
countries in the organisation, that
has been consistently and openly
vexed with the Chavez/Maduro
Despite the caution of oth-
er member states, the small but
powerful group of countries has
repeatedly issued statements that
lack balance and portrays them as
less than neutral. This has led to
alienation of the Venezuelan gov-
ernment whose involvement in any
solution to the Venezuelan issue is
Before continuing further, it
should be stated that there are
no clean hands in Venezuela and
no paragons of virtue. The coun-
try is locked in a battle for power
between political parties that has
paralysed its capacity to formulate
and implement a plan for dealing
with a weakened economic situa-
tion that has affected the country
as a whole.
The conflict that has arisen---and
that intensifies everyday---has en-
gulfed the country. The resolution
of the conflict resides in the politi-
cal will of the governing and oppo-
sition parties to agree a Venezuelan
solution to their national problem.
But, despite attempts at medi-
ation even by a high representa-
tive of the Pope, neither side has
demonstrated the spirit of compro-
mise or reconciliation that is fun-
damental to formulating a solution.
Each side appears to want victory
even at the expense of the coun-
try's turmoil and the population's
In adopting entrenched positions
and intensifying the conflict, each
side has sought allies from among
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