After months of awkward silence, the OAS has finally approved a resolution regarding the situation in Venezuela. The text presented by Argentina, Brazil, the United States of America, Mexico, Panama and Saint Lucia is, contrary to multilateral diplomacy fashion, short and sweet.
In a few paragraphs, the text expresses the region’s growing concern regarding the political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. It also “calls upon” the Venezuelan government to “reconsider” its call for presidential elections and to provide sufficient time as well as all necessary guarantees for a free, just, transparent and credible process.
But if you judged it by Venezuela’s Ambassador Samuel Moncada’s statement, you would think the resolution was calling for a full-fledged military invasion while the Marines were already positioned at the shores of La Guaira. If adopted, Moncada said, massive violence would be unleashed in the country and it would bring about a coup that would replace Maduro with a US-friendly government – nothing new really.
This time, however, Moncada outperformed his mentor, Delcy Eloina, as his words reached new levels of cynicism and cruelty in the face of countless stories of hunger and lack of medicines we systematically hear and see every day: through sanctions, he argued, the US government has hijacked “billions of dollars” in oil revenue that could have been used to import medicines and food el pueblo needed. As if today’s massive shortages would have started only a few months ago.
After the typical procedural maneuvering to block the session, ably led by the soft spoken Ambassador of Bolivia, Diego Pary, the resolution was finally approved by 19 votes in favor and 8 abstentions, including those from traditional Bolivarian allies like Nicaragua, El Salvador and Ecuador. Only 5 voted against.
It is the first time the Permanent Council clearly recognizes and addresses the severity of the humanitarian situation and asks the government to do something about it.
Though some might consider the resolution somewhat weak, is significant on several accounts.
First, it reflects that there is a much wider disposition to call on Maduro and his pals to basically stop doing whatever they want with the country, its people and its democracy. The regime’s tricks are becoming increasingly more difficult to disguise, particularly in the face of its illegal and murky dealings regarding the April 22 elections.
Second, it is the first time the Permanent Council clearly recognizes and addresses the severity of the humanitarian situation and asks the government to do something about it, including accepting international aid. This is a relevant point as the sheer magnitude of the humanitarian emergency is difficult to deny and even harder to hide. The mood around the neighborhood might well be expectation about who would be next in line to be hit with a wave of Venezuelan migrants that are fleeing the country in search of food, medicines and medical attention. And that includes the English speaking Caribbean. This was probably a factor, together with the decline in influence derived from a depleted petrochequera, which made some countries abstain during the voting.
And third, this vote with its 19 countries in favor, compared to previous ones, is certainly a milestone in terms of international support. Only a couple of years ago, a similar text wouldn’t have passed the test. Its general tone, concrete but far from aggressively demanding Venezuela to stop the elections and open a humanitarian corridor, facilitated this result.
So the wind seems to be blowing against the Bolivarian revolution, taking it deeper and deeper into international isolation. It would appear as if the era in which the region was under the spell of the Socialismo del Siglo XXI is coming to an end.
But let’s not fool ourselves thinking that this means the regime’s end is near.
This is another move on the board, though significant, in order to increase the pressure on Maduro and to make him and his regime responsible for what they do and don’t.