Photo: Luis Almagro

“The time has come to open Venezuela to international aid, and do it now,” said solemnly the vice-president of the United States of America, Mike Pence, in a special session of the OAS Permanent Council. This is arguably the strongest statement made by any high ranking official of any country in the hemisphere regarding Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis. 

It has been an eventful week at the OAS, where the issue of Venezuela has taken center stage, coinciding precisely with the organization’s 70th anniversary.

A week ago, Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s ambassador to the OAS, admitted the severity of the situation by saying “I don’t deny the crisis, it would be ridiculous.” Last week’s meeting, built on progress already made with the February 23 resolution (in which the Council recognized the existence of a humanitarian situation) and rightly described as a moral imperative by Chile’s ambassador, exposed in detail the humanitarian disaster, its regional impact and some of the responses to it by countries and international organizations. For the first time, during almost three hours, the Permanent Council heard an excruciating dissection of the situation in Venezuela, based on first hand information and how it’s impacting the region, presented by a panel that included OAS and IOM representatives, a statement from Caritas, and Venezuelan doctor Julio Castro, a leading voice in documenting and decrying the severe health crisis.

According to figures presented by Diego Beltrand, IOM’s South America director, Venezuelan migration flows have grown exponentially: only in 2017, 1,642,442 Venezuelans left the country.

Remember that a year ago, something like this would have been unthinkable.

Last week’s panel made a conscious effort at balancing causes and consequences of the crisis: the staggering deficiencies in food, medicines and medical assistance, that along with political instability and hyperinflation, have thrown thousands of Venezuelans into what the Colombian delegation labelled “forced migration” and Secretary General Almagro called “the worse migration crisis in the hemisphere’s modern history.”

According to figures presented by Diego Beltrand, IOM’s South America director, Venezuelan migration flows have grown exponentially: only in 2017, 1,642,442 Venezuelans left the country — more than twice the amount in 2015, and three times more than in 2010. Mauricio Rands, OAS’ Secretary for Access to Rights and Equity, indicated that in a recent visit to the Brazilian border with Venezuela, he learned that between 600 and 700 Venezuelans arrive every day to the borderline city of Pacaraima. Rand referred to the situation as a “refugee crisis.”

The Peruvian representative said that its northern frontier with Ecuador has received over 2,000 Venezuelans a day in the last few weeks, while the Colombian delegation compared the situation to that of Europe, where around 170,000 people crossed the Mediterranean sea into different European countries last year. The number of Venezuelans crossing the Rumichaca bridge in the Colombian-Ecuadorian border that same period, either to stay or continue south, was 2,293,674. By March 2018, it was 206,454. In 2014 that number was 7,800.

“El Oso” Almagro is no longer alone. What seemed like a cry in the desert, has finally echoed in the region.

On Venezuela, Vice-President Pence made three concrete requests to countries in the region: 1) to impede money laundering efforts by corrupt Venezuelan officials through their financial systems; 2) to deny entry to corrupt Venezuelan officials; and 3) to hold Maduro accountable for the destruction of Venezuelan democracy. He then asked Venezuela be suspended from the OAS, a low impact proposal given that the country is already leaving the body in 2019. This is while the Treasury Department announced sanctions to three additional Venezuelans for their drug trafficking involvement.  

Pence’s proposals, as well as those from last week, will surely be discussed and could find their way into a draft resolution, as the Venezuelan situation will be an agenda item in the organization’s upcoming General Assembly to take place in Washington D.C.

While the events of this week come late in acknowledging a crisis that has simmered under the continent’s nose, as Secretary General Almagro said: it’s still not too late.  

El Oso Almagro is no longer alone. What seemed like a cry in the desert, has finally echoed in the region. The OAS’ incremental steps in dealing with the Venezuelan crisis, keeping the pressure on the regime’s failure to uphold democracy and guarantee basic rights, are the right way forward, and the message this week is clear: not only does the OAS know that the regime abandoned its citizens and stopped fulfilling its responsibilities, but the majority of its members have said enough with looking to the side.

Silence is not an option. It remains to be seen if the regime will listen.

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  1. And aside from the U.S. as the strongest voice, with a handful of other weaker ones, no one really cares.

    An incredible opportunity for LatAm countries, ANY LatAm country, to show leadership by TAKING the lead, and they’re fucking blowing it.

    And don’t think for a moment that Trump’s State Department hasn’t been trying to convince them to do just that over the past 18 months. Give them the credit, and responsibility, with U.S. support. But it seems there are no serious takers.

    What is it? Their DNA?

    • not DNA….is upbringing…….latinos in this are as Italians of WW2….they dont have the balls for sacrifice…….they only do the minimum…. what exactly have they contributed to world economy that wester technologies haven’t shown them and exploited them for????…….the oil would still be in the ground……i dont eat bananas…or Arepas……..sarcasm…..everyone is leaving…..they say they love Venezuela……from afar

      • The really strange thing is once they immigrate to the US or work for a big global corporation they seem to completely change their “Strips”. The large group of Venezuelan Expats that I associate with seem to be very well educated and work extremely hard (way beyond the minimum). I’ve seen the same transformation from immigrants from other south american countries. Yet they still bring many of their cultural traditions, foods, music, and dance Salas at parties.

        Must be something the “water” …..

        • I don’t think it is the water. I believe that it is something called “critical mass”. It also helps if you have the right incentives.

          When I worked in Venezuela (USB) I knew that I was going to get paid exactly the same salary as the guy in the next office, who spent his whole day playing Tetris in his computer. And this is not Chavizmo’s fault, this happened during the last days of the Cuarta República. Way before the shit hit the fan.

          My working habits nowadays are not that different from what they were when I was in Venezuela, but my productivity and my ability to get things done in collaboration with my colleagues has increased at least 50-fold. As I said, critical mass and incentives.

    • “What is it? Their DNA?”

      No, dude, it’s millions of blood-stained dollars.

      Petro dollars.

      That’s why chabiztos steal 99,7% of every dollar that enters Venezuela, to finance the monstrous castrocommunist lobby that puts the arepa muzzle on so many folks.

        • Colombia: Santos
          Paraguay: Lugo
          Uruguay: Mujica
          Brazil: Lula / Dilma
          Argentina: Kirchner
          Ecuador: Correa
          Chile: Bachelet
          Perú: Humala

          Basically every country that mattered in LatAm received billions of chave-dollars to support the dictatorship, even today years after many of the swindlers lost power in those countries, the tentacles of the castrocommunist lobby still continue strangling those countries.

    • At one time, Brazil was positioning itself to be the Leader of LatAm. Then Lula ran the economy into the ground. Right now, there is no front-runner for the position. Colombia is the only other one with a military that is capable of projecting force outside of it’s borders, but they are still sorting out internal problems, and the current president doesn’t have that grand of a vision.

      • There is a saying that has been around for a long time:

        “Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be.”

  2. But the Venezuelan dictatorship only speaks the language of brute force, so the most to expect from these countries is an economic embargo and accelerate the implosion of the Venezuelan state. The alternative is that they make colorful declarations and let Chavistas implode the state all on their own.

    Thanks for the sympathy, OAS, really! In the meantime, we continue to count the dead and export refugees.

    • “This is arguably the strongest statement made by any high ranking official of any country in the hemisphere regarding Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.”

      And this is getting VERY close to a compliment!

      Hey, just one more example of, “slack-jawed, right-wing, simplemindedness,” at work.

  3. We all know the Latin American tendency to never bother maintaining something till it breaks. Prevention is simply not part of So Am lexicon. Ergo the surrounding nations don’t care enough about Venezuela to do anything. Except the huge exodus of refugees is pushing their social services to the breaking point, is costing them real money, so the problem can no longer be ignored as it’s washing over their borders like a tsunami. The problem is that we all know any humanitarian aid going into Venezuela would be appropriated by the Chavistas and used as a political tool and means to turn a profit. So implementing humanitarian aid will be tricky because the Chavistas will demand to “manage” it lest outsiders compromise their “sovereignty.”

  4. “It remains to be seen if the Regime will listen”–Well, no, actually, they wont. “The OAS’s incremental steps in dealing with the Venezuelan crisis…are the right way forward”–Well, no, actually, unless you think that the way to Venezuelan Hell is paved with good intentions. The only clear-visioned with balls S.A. member of the OAS is Almagro (as was Kuscynski, RIP). Maybe when Venezuelan emigres by size can swing elections in neighboring S.A. countries will they do anything important to solve the Venezuelan crisis (sarcasm). One more example (besides Cuba attending) that the OAS is irrelevant in solving Regional problems of importance….

  5. ” No more escrache videos by the diaspora, then. ”

    It’s a little price to pay for freedom.

    But, twitter-writer, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of chances to escrache the ass of a bunch of chabizta garbage that’s trying to pass for “radical oppos” outside Venezuela.

  6. Luisa, I was with you right up till your last sentence, “It remains to be seen if the Regime will listen.” They do not care what the rest of the world thinks of them. They will only do what you want them to do (leave) at the point of a gun or feet first.

  7. Interestingly, what Pence (and Trump and soon Pompel) is saying and indicating to immigration services in the U.S. is that VZ ex-pats are indeed to be considered legitimate, eligible asylum seekers.

    It’s an important point, since Trump is acting so strongly against other guests whose temporary protected status has expired, or who were totally “illegal” in the first place.

    (Hey, I have tons of sympathy for most of those who’ve been here such a long time temporarily and he now wants them out, but his policy from a legal standpoint is 100% in line with both the letter of U.S. immigration laws in the states, and sensible immigration control.)

    One day I’ll be able to get my wife to understand this and I can stop hiding my guns from her, since I voted for Trump. Her nieces and nephews in Miami have an excellent chance of getting their permanent green cards now.

    • “Pompeo,” not “Pompel.”

      But I think I like “Pompel” better!

      (Weird that auto-correct used the other one.

  8. Half the success or productivity of a person is tied not just to its personal expertise or talent or character traits but how these flourish when mingled or placed in a favourable milieu or environment , its amazing the number of Venezuelans who have achieved notable things or excelled after they moved north , who maybe if they had remained home would have not been able to grow as professionals or businessmen but for fonding in the north the right environment !! If you put good but ordinary people in a favourable stimulating milieu the chances are that they will learn from their enviroment and excell … its a human universal .!!

    • Professional, successful people want to be around other people like them. It is like that no matter where you go.

      We lived in a very nice house in Las Vegas for a few years. However, we never got to know our neighbors very well, despite the fact that they had some financial success. The neighbors were very boorish and talking to them longer than 3 minutes made you feel like you had to take a shower afterwards. Same thing happened in Portland, OR.

      We now live in a small Midwestern US city, and the neighborhood we live in isn’t especially “wealthy”, but the neighbors are by their own measure successful and achievers. It is awesome to interact with people who aren’t jealous of anothers success or achievement. While they may not have a lot of material wealth, they certainly are proud of their work and what they have accomplished.

      I think this is why my wife (expat Venezuelan) is so happy to live in this frozen tundra. People have the same values as she does. Plus, the neighbor lady likes red wine as much as Mrs. Guapo.


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