CELACantaron Clarito

Hugo Chávez created the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as a friendly forum to protect Venezuela from external pressure. These days, the body won’t even hold a meeting if Nicolás Maduro convenes it.

Nicolás Maduro can’t catch a break: Kicked out of Mercosur, clashing with our Colombian neighbors, sanctioned by the U.S. and criticized even by Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno.

No wonder the guy’s hurting for some “international solidarity,” and desperate to rekindle some of Chávez’s old integrationist magic. Specifically, Maduro’s been trying to convene a special summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). This OAS-minus-the-U.S.-and-Canada parapeto was one of Chávez’s darlings, and Maduro wants it to convene on one condition: do it behind closed doors.

Recently appointed Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza recently met with his Salvadoran counterpart Hugo Martínez to make the arrangements, because El Salvador holds the pro-tempore presidency of the CELAC.

A few days later, Martinez made this announcement:

I can communicate that, at this time, there’s no consensus on holding an extraordinary summit about the Venezuelan case and, therefore CELAC wouldn’t celebrate such a special summit.

The keyword here is “consensus”. Given CELAC’s internal rules, all decisions require consensus among its members — they don’t go for this imperialist “voting” or “majority” thing at all.

Argentina and Panama sent delegations led by junior officials.

Back in May, the last time CELAC met to talk about Venezuela, seven members decided to not send anyone to the summit at all (Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, México, Paraguay, Perú and Trinidad & Tobago). Argentina and Panama sent delegations led by junior officials. Even if Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén formally opened the meeting himself and Venezuela’s then Foreign Minister (and now Speaker of the Constituyente) Delcy Rodríguez insisted that it was a huge success, nothing concrete came out of the meeting.

Back then, Panamanian Vice-President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo called the meeting premature, and expressed concern it could cause a rift between the CELAC and the Organization of American States. (Days earlier the meeting, the B.R. of V. had formally introduced its request to withdraw from the OAS.)

So how isolated is Maduro diplomatically now? So isolated he can’t catch a break even organizations Chávez created specifically to protect Venezuela from international pressure. That’s how isolated he is.