The useless Insulza

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OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza finally opened his pie hole with respect to Venezuela … and he should have kept his mouth shut.

In a letter long on analysis, Insulza whines, frets, and pouts about how polarized and difficult the situation in Venezuela is. He says that he usually keeps quiet because whatever he says will be misconstrued by the other side … without offering any solution to his conundrum. The whole thing is one long, sappy temper tantrum.

Let’s go to the tape:

This division explains the supposed amiguity (translator’s note: “supposed” ambiguity?!?) of governments, international organizations, civil society, and other actors who wish to help but cannot find a way to do so. If they do not condemn the government, they are “cowards” or “accomplices.” If they dare to criticize it, they are “interfering” or “allies of Imperialism.” The attitude from both sides is not conducive to a productive action on behalf of the international community to foster rapproachment and reconciliation. The initiatives being proposed wish to draw us into the polarization.

And on he goes, you get the gist.

Look Mr. Insulza, I know it sucks to have to deal with Venezuela. But you know what? It’s your damn job. If you weren’t too late into the game, perhaps you wouldn’t have a crisis on your hands to begin with.

The situation in Venezuela has been simmering for years. Back in 2002, your predecessor, Mr. Gaviria, spent months in Venezuela overseeing “dialogue” between the two sides. And what came of it? A couple of agreements that were completely ignored by the government.

Let’s recall what was agreed upon. Last April I wrote about this, and I said

Among other things, these documents stated that both sides, the government and the opposition, agreed to:

  • avoid “mutual recriminations, hurtful language, and any rhetoric that contributes or stimulates confrontation”;
  • form a Truth Commission to deal with the violence of those years;
  • reject insults or offense as a way of dealing with political differences;
  • call for peace and tolerance;
  • form an instance of permanent dialogue between the government and the opposition;
  • promote the disarmament of the civilian population;
  • form an independent, trustworthy, transparent, and impartial Electoral Council;
  • protect freedom of expression

Now tell me – ten years on, has the government kept its word on ANY of these points? And as these ten years went by without the government holding up its side of the bargain, with Venezuela’s political situation continuing to deteriorate month after month, why did you not speak up? Why did you not engage in quiet diplomacy to bring the sides to the table, to prevent the situation from escalating?

I understand that sometimes the opposition can be just as verbally harsh as the government. However, you make it sound as if both parties are equally at fault.

You fail to point out that, while rhetoric may be equally heightened, the problem here is not the rhetoric precisely. Fundamental rights are being threatened here, mostly by the government. The opposition has not limited chavistas’ freedom of the press. The opposition is not threatening chavista newspapers. The opposition does not have paramilitary goon squads terrorizing civilians. The opposition is not taking away vital services from areas where protests occur. The opposition is not restricting the government’s right to protest or hold rallies. And the opposition is certainly not beating the crap out of chavista legislators – which five-star restaurant were you gorging at while that was happening, by the way?

All of these vital considerations are missing from Ms. Insulza’s letter, because he is simply afraid of being called names by the bi-polar Mr. Maduro.

Mr. Insulza’s letter is too little, too late. His job should be to protect principles, not parties. His job is to foster democracy, not dialogue. Dialogue is a means to an end, but it’s not the only one.

As Henrique Capriles said a few days, Mr. Insulza is an embarassment to the continent. For the sake of saving the OAS, he should step aside and let someone else do the job he is clearly tired of doing.

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