The OAS hearings are what many Venezuelans have been waiting for: the possibility of seeing the Maduro regime prosecuted for crimes against humanity. In the Secretary General’s (Luis Almagro) three reports on the issue, it’s hinted that there might be grounds to believe the Maduro regime is involved in crimes prosecutable at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Almagro even called former ICC prosecutor, Argentinian Luis Moreno Ocampo, on a special advisor capacity to analyze the case. Moreno Ocampo explained that, in his view, the only category of crimes for which the ICC could intervene, are crimes against humanity (the other two types being genocide and war crimes). His main task is to gather information and evaluate if, in fact, these crimes have been committed. In that context, he’ll establish their massive and systematic nature, as well as individual responsibilities.

The testimonies made by exiled military officers and civilians are staggering: beatings, isolation, psychological torture, electric shocks, rape, insults, asphyxiation with toxic gases, feces in food and many other abhorrent tactics, all carried out by Venezuelan security forces, against detainees, including political prisoners, who have lost between 15 and 35 kilograms. Descriptions and stories from La Tumba, the infamous prison cell 5 stories below ground level within SEBIN headquarters, are daunting. Today, exiled Major General Hebert Garcia Plaza’s account of how decisions are made on political prisoners, including Cilia Flores’ role as omnipresent political advisor to president Maduro, offer a glimpse at how the justice strings are pulled from Miraflores.

The OAS process is a preliminary step that, significant as it might be, is not part of any formal procedure.

We’ve known for years of these situations, but to hear lawyers, NGOs and victims explain in detail the horror and injustice unfolding, although shocking, provides some sort of relief and hope that maybe perpetrators will be put  on trial. Most importantly: it’s the first time these cases are being heard publicly in a formal setting.

This is not a guarantee, however, that the issue will make it all the way to The Hague. The steps and requirements needed are complex, the first one being a preliminary examination by which the Prosecutor’s Office decides if “there is enough information on crimes of sufficient gravity”, providing a “reasonable basis” for investigation. Venezuela was already subject to such examination in 2006, and the very same Moreno Ocampo concluded there was not enough evidence to investigate, in accordance with the Rome Statute.

The OAS process is a preliminary step that, significant as it might be, is not part of any formal procedure. In fact, it has been framed within the Organization’s responsibility to consolidate peace in the region, included in Article 2 of the OAS Charter. The hearings and written information will go into a report that will later be reviewed by a three-person panel of independent experts. It’ll make public its conclusions at a fourth hearing, set for October 30th.

The report will then be sent to Almagro’s office for further action, depending on the experts’ and Moreno Ocampo’s findings. What happens next is not clear yet. What is becoming clearer is that, even if the case does not ultimately reach The Hague, the regime’s arbitrary, criminal, and cruel nature, as well as its disregard for the law, is exposed and well documented, for everyone to see, at anytime.

Proof is, indeed, piling up.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my God.

    I can’t believe anyone is wasting a second of their lives thinking about…let alone writing about…the OAS and Venezuela.

    It’s like the movie Groundhog Day, where every morning he wakes up, and lives the same day over and over and over again.

    Except he LEARNED from each day and adapted, and the opposition is still pinning their hopes on this worthless effort.

    U,S. military intervention is the only way out of this.

    Too much of a Gringo hater to accept this? So be it:

    You’re the scumbags killing your kids, not the Yankees.

    • you are deluded
      the US public opinion vehemently opposes another war/intervention (left & right! ideology/budget)
      the US politicians (left & right!) most likely oppose war/intervention
      the Latin American countries (probably the EU also) oppose intervention
      from what I read somewhere, Venezuelans ourselves largely would oppose a military intervention

      I leave you with some excerpts of an article:
      (http://theglobalamericans.org/2017/08/military-option-venezuela-not-really-option-u-s-military/)

      ‘A military option in Venezuela is not really an option for the U.S. military’

      “(…) the military’s operational tempo remains high; from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, to North Korea and the South China Sea, (…) add a number of other countries subjected to U.S. counter-terrorism operations and you begin to see an over-extended US military.

      (…) suddenly, to everyone’s surprise (INCLUDING THE U.S. MILITARY) on August 11th, President Trump stated that the U.S. was considering a “military option” to resolve the turmoil in Venezuela. Apparently, this came WITHOUT CONSULTING the State Department and U.S. military. The Pentagon IMMEDIATELY responded by stating that it had NOT received an order from the White House to plan for a military intervention.

      Let’s leave aside the near unanimous repudiation from U.S. allies in the region and the near-consensus view among analysts that Trump’s unfortunate suggestion was not only reckless but counterproductive (…) Instead, let’s focus on whether it makes sense for an over-extended military to use its finite resources to resolve Venezuela’s political turmoil.

      First, it should be said that since at least the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon (…) does not consider the Western Hemisphere a theater for planning and conducting conventional military operations. There are simply no military threats or competitors to the U.S. in a region considered to be a “zone of peace” (& thus) The 2017 Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) (…) is not in the business of planning military interventions or occupations in the hemisphere.

      Setting this strategic reality aside, let’s assume a decision is made to move resources from more active theaters of operations, such as in the Middle East and Asia, to the Western Hemisphere to plan and execute a military operation in Venezuela. First, one must ask, “what is the political goal or end state of an intervention?”

      1. regime change:

      (…)assuming U.S. forces will not encounter much resistance, the Pentagon will have to plan for at least a force of 150,000 that can quickly overwhelm any conventional and irregular resistance during the intervention and subsequent occupation.

      The Maduro government is very likely to collapse almost immediately, leaving no government in place to assume the responsibilities of law and order. As a result, U.S. forces will have to remain until at least stability and a legitimate government is restored. It is hard to objectively calculate the overall costs of the intervention/occupation and time on the ground.

      2. forcing a change in the behavior or policies of the Maduro government.

      If the political objective is to change the Venezuelan dictatorship’s behavior such that it will allow for elections and the restoration of the rule of law, it will at a minimum require a show of force that still requires the transfer of forces and equipment from much more vital conflict zones. Of course, when you go down this path, one has to be ready to use force if the regime doesn’t change its behavior. Surgical air strikes are sure to create chaos, violence among competing political actors and a collapsed state, leaving the U.S. with no other option than to intervene.

      In short, from a strictly military standpoint, the last thing the U.S. armed forces want, already over-stretched and on high levels of alert in key conflict zones, is to have to plan and execute a military intervention and likely occupation of a country that does not represent a grave threat to U.S. security and that is likely to lead to strong anti-U.S. sentiment across a region where the US military has done much to build goodwill in the last decade or so.”

      to pine hopes on a legal intervention that is being openly worked on, investigated, is compiling evidence/accounts, is most certainly not outlandish …
      many of us don’t want war (& hoping for one is a dead end because there will most likely never be a military intervention) — what we have left are negotiations, legal avenues, lobbying , & sanctions — that is realistic, has widespread international support so it is all we’ve ACTUALLY got

      we are the civilian opposition (affiliated or not), & not the murderers of our youth, the blame is clear and the killers have names, I think it is very shitty to accuse the victims of being the perpetrators…

      • Fabiola
        I am an American. Although I would not object to US military intervention to end this ever worsening humanitarian crisis, I have a real frustration with the fact that the opposition has collapsed.
        I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the lack of civil disobedience or organized resistance against this illegal and unholy regime.
        The men of Venezuela need to step up and actively resist this regime in any way possible. It is true that these acts of resistance may be dangerous and some people may lose their lives or be incarcerated in a Hell hole prison.
        Sacrifice is part of the struggle against tyranny.
        My ideal intervention would include military participation from many OAS member countries rather then the US taking unilateral action. Selling this to the US public is possible. It would be much easier to claim assistance to freedom fighters, rather than the objective being to hand democracy to people that have chosen to wait for someone else to sacrifice their lives, when the oppressed people seem unwilling to take the same risks.
        Chavez went to the UN and Called President G.W. Bush the devil. How many people that are suffering the brutality of this regime, agreed with Chavez?
        An argument can be made that the current regime is complicit in smuggling illegal drugs into the US. The current opiate related pandemic that is plaguing our young people, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, plays into this argument.
        Al-Assami’s ties to Hezbollah can be shown to be a direct terrorist threat to the US and the people of the Americas.
        The disdain for Castro and the Cuban infiltration of Venezuela that has effectively created a Cuban satellite that threatens the stability of other Latin American democracies is also a valid argument.
        I have said this before and I’ll repeat myself.
        The Latin American leaders that so quickly and forcefully denounced President Trump’s remarks about military options, empowered this regime to continue on the path of destruction and oppression that is causing incalculable human suffering. Their “Yankee Imperialism” accusations, may have played well to their electorate, but they hurt the Venezuelan people. A much more measured response that recognized the situation may deteriorate to the point that military intervention is warranted, would have retained that influence over the regime and may have motivated them regime to cooperate in restoring democracy. US military intervention was the only true wild card the regime needed to worry about.
        I believe that the American people have become desensitized to the plight of so many people suffering throughout the world. Compared to the atrocities committed by ISIS, the regime in Venezuela looks almost benevolent. The 24 / 7 news cycle has overloaded people’s emotional capacity to empathize with so many people suffering so terribly. The argument that these are our neighbors that President Trump spoke of, is a valid argument to a regional response and requires constant emphasis.
        The instability that a building refugee crisis may cause, needs to be addressed.
        So many Liberal media outlets, politicians and activists praised Chavez. They see Maduro as the extension of Chavismo and are reluctant or at least indifferent to any criticism of the regime. Regardless of the significant failings of Chavismo that paved the path for the dictatorship of today, many people still see Chavez as leading a democratically elected government. It is this break with democratic tradition and the corruption that has looted Venezuela that needs to be exploited.
        Exposing the lie of “Yankee Imperialism” as the distraction that it is, by showcasing the Russian and Chinese control of Venezuelan resources, destroys any pretense that the Maduro regime claims for protecting Venezuela from foreign looting and colonialism.
        My apologies for such a long response. I served over 3 decades in capacities in the US government. One thing that is as sure as death and taxes is that foreign relations and influence does not occur in a vacuum. The globe more resembles a fluid chess game with ever changing factors, than a black and white, good or bad landscape with actors and players constantly in flux.
        I do hope that President Trump allows the career foreign service officers more influence in this unfolding humanitarian crisis. The vast majority of the world’s democracies are young (post WW 2) and Latin America is no exception. Each country has unique philosophies and traditions that defy a one size fits all approach. While bluster may be effective when negotiating real estate deals, tact and personal relationships play an important role in diplomacy. The give and take, cajoling and financial assistance that is often required to come to an agreement, is usually more effective in a low key environment.
        I am certain that there are currently many different negotiations in different stages of agreement, occurring throughout the region in regard to resolving this crisis.

        • John,
          I don’t think it is realistic to expect a US military intervention, the cost is too high, the relative danger Venezuela poses to the US is not much, the US military already has its hands full & I think that neither the Senate nor the Congress would pass it …
          I am also frustrated with the opposition, but people are increasingly leaving the country and losing calorie intake (we like to look at Ukraine, but they always had a steady supply of food) — people are also demoralized and many are not willing to sacrifice their freedom/health/lives (torture, indefinite and illegal detention, wounds nobody can afford to get treated, death… no child’s play)

          I also want people to keep demonstrating but what can I do if they won’t?

          Look at what actually IS being done, in the international arena and domestically (people did vote for the primaries in numbers that are normal for any primary ever in Venezuela)

          I think a coalition of forces from different countries would be fantastic, but as of now it doesn’t appear that that will ever happen (who can we count on? Colombia, Brazil (they have a crisis), Chile (close to an election that might change their support of the opposition), Perú…?)
          But we don’t actually have ANY freedom fighters (as of now at least) — there hasn’t been a grouping of Venezuelans that have declared they are willing to take up arms , nobody is willing to take those risks – THAT IS THE REALITY

          Yeah, but the anti-narc operations in Latin America are concentrated on Colombia, where the drugs are grown and where a Peace treaty has been accorded… I don’t think we will be seeing the drug issue pull the US military to act in Venezuela , they have opted for dimplomacy there
          They have known about Hezbollah for years and years and never did anything, why would they now?
          For reasons I will never understand (maybe some are ideological) , Latin American countries are very quiet on Cuba , they would vehemently oppose intervention on those grounds
          Yes, in Latin America there is a negative memory of US intervention, what can we do about it? no country of the continent will ever welcome an intervention —— It is a reality
          If there was a war the refugee crisis would be ENORMOUS, so would the need for much more humanitarian aid , food, medicines, shelter …
          So how can anyone make the US public care for Venezuela? They don’t to the extent of approving an intervention — it is a reality , especially the left that , as you say, have praised chavez but also the budget conscious, the ones who believe everyone has to deal and solve their own problems , and the nationalistic crowd from the right — will any of them ever be convinced? I think not

          
I appreciate your comment (esp. since I LOVE long responses, they are usually the most interesting!) ,your insight of the foreign policy chess game , of the global interconnectedness and the cultural identity of each country
          The diplomatic game has taken a push from the recent incursion of the EU who successfully pushed for these current negotiations on the threat of imposing sanction on the maduro dictatorship (those sanctions would be very fatal and I have read that the regime wants to avoid them at all costs, not sure if that is true or not…)

          I have my hopes on scenarios that are realistic (even if I am frustrated and want more and quicker) and as you say, many negotiations seem to be occurring throughout the region

      • “you are deluded
        the US public opinion vehemently opposes another war/intervention (left & right! ideology/budget)
        the US politicians (left & right!) most likely oppose war/intervention
        the Latin American countries (probably the EU also) oppose intervention
        from what I read somewhere, Venezuelans ourselves largely would oppose a military intervention”

        Nice rant, but he never said anyting about all those you named as supporting military intervention. He merely asserted it was the only way out of the mess Venezuela has become.

        All evidence to date would suggest he’s correct.

        • all of those actors would have to agree to make the military intervention happen! No support, no intervention! It is unrealistic to keep repeating over and over that war is the only way when it will most likely never happen! It is not correct because it is not feasible, we have to deal with what we ACTUALLY have MRubio 

          • What you ACTUALLY have is a useless ineffective joke of an Opposition, incapable of solving your self-inflicted shit storm. You’re lucky its in the U.S. self-interest to solve Venezuela’s Hemispheric problem, one way, or another….

      • First of all, the mass of a post here, any post, doesn’t translate to validity. I could write thirty paragraphs here, but it’s important to learn the meaning of “succinct.”

        Second, you say you don’t war. Which amazes me:

        You don’t think you’re at war now? And you only infer war if the U.S. gets involved military?

        My God, this attitude disgusts me. The only solution to your problems is staring you in the face, and you reject it?

        This is a very special kind of stupid.

        As far as U.S. opinion goes, there are a ton of military options that won’t get my country “dragged” into anything.

        The VZ military is an ant compared to us, especially when it comes to not even putting boots on the ground. And those shoulder fired missiles the Russians and Chinese sold them?

        The fucking corrupt and disgustung Chavistas will ask where they can sign up to sell them to the Americans for 500 bucks.

        • Ira
          I was quoting an article discussing the very topic you keep pushing for , I could have tried to summarize it more but I frankly did not want to spend my time doing that
          No we are not at war now because there is ONLY ONE ARMED SIDE — war is a lot worse , a lot more deadly , with a lot more refugees, more urgent need for humanitarian aid, more everything — it would decimate infrastructure, multiply terror by a million
          Who else will intervene?Brazil? Colombia? The US has been the ONLY country in the WHOLE WORLD that has EVER mentioned military intervention in the context of Venezuela
          Latin American countries are vehemently opposed to it, they have never even mentioned a shadow of support MUCH LESS ANY inkling of disposition to take it up themselves (the EU? Asian nations? WHO else?)
          It is not staring me at the face BECAUSE THERE ARE NO FIGHTERS IN VENEZUELA, NO ARMS, NO DISPOSITION to FIGHT, it is not real! would it be a foreign military vs. the Venezuelan one?
          Yes our military is a joke, but it is still a military, it will fight , it will probably be defeated quickly, but insurrections and rebellions would occur (from the crazy chavista ones at least! That is a couple hundred thousand “strong”, doing some guerrilla warfare a la Vietcong) — like the article said: the foreign military would have to stay to keep that under control , more cost, more sacrifice from areas that are a lot more dangerous like Syria, Afghanistan… what if the don’t? What if they fight to the death? Your suppositions are not any less stupid than me

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