Photo: RCN Radio retrieved

On Thursday, January 10, in Washington, DC, the OAS Permanent Council finally had the votes to approve a Resolution that “does not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s new term as of January 10, 2019”, and among other things, “calls for new presidential elections” to be held in Venezuela with the participation of international observers as guarantors of its fairness and transparency.

It was the first time in a while that this regional community of states achieved enough votes to have a formal document condemning the Maduro regime approved at the OAS.  

This move by the OAS Permanent Council, whose Presidency is currently under the government of El Salvador, signals the beginning of the isolation of the Maduro regime from the international community.

It also signals (finally) the full support of the majority of the democratic states in the Inter-American system to the Venezuelan people and democratic institutions in the country.

Here’s the list of nominal votes:

Antigua and Barbuda Abstain
Argentina In favor
Barbados Abstain
Belize Abstain
Bolivia Against
Brazil In Favor
Canada In Favor
Chile In Favor
Colombia In Favor
Costa Rica In Favor
Dominica Against
Dominican Republic In Favor
Ecuador In Favor
El Salvador Abstain
Grenada Did not participate
Guatemala In favor
Guyana In Favor
Haiti In Favor
Honduras In Favor
Jamaica In Favor
Mexico Abstain
Nicaragua Against
Panama In Favor
Paraguay In Favor
Peru In Favor
St. Kitts and Nevis Abstain
St. Lucia In Favor
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Against
Suriname Against
Bahamas In favor
Trinidad and Tobago Abstain
United States of America In Favor
Uruguay Abstain
Venezuela Against

 

A total of 19 countries voted in favor of approving the Permanent Council Resolution. 6 countries (the usual suspects) voted against, and there were 8 countries that abstained for voting. What can be said about this?

First, the beginning of the isolation of the Maduro regime started yesterday. 19 countries of the region, and an important number of European countries, including the President of the European Parliament, rejected the illegitimacy of the regime, and have even started cutting diplomatic ties with Venezuela. Paraguay took the lead.

The OAS Resolution marks the agenda for the community of democratic states in support of the Venezuelan people, and the conditions for the Maduro regime to have any sort of dialogue with fellow nations.

Second, only four countries of the region had their heads of state attend Maduro’s so-called “swearing-in ceremony”: Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. We know the story with Cuba. The representatives of Bolivia and Nicaragua to the OAS, as expected, voted with Venezuela against the  resolution while their presidents were with Maduro in Caracas. President Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador also joined Maduro, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega at the “party”, but their representative, interestingly enough, abstained from the voting at the OAS.

On Thursday, Sánchez Cerén’s Secretary of Communications was reducing the importance of the president’s trip to Venezuelan in support of Maduro as part of the president’s “normal,” day-to-day agenda. Being apologetic about his appearance in Caracas? He had to, his support to Maduro is taking votes away from the FMLN candidate, Hugo Martínez, for the February elections in El Salvador.

As evidenced in more recent decisions, Ecuador under President Moreno did an about-face and voted against Venezuela. The president explained his reasons in a video yesterday.

Three surprises, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, beneficiaries for years of PetroCaribe diplomacy decided to go rogue. They voted in favor of the resolution. Does that mean they finally understand there are no more Petro dollars coming in? And that they now have to rely on the United States for financial support for their economies? If that’s the case, Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis didn’t get that memo. Yesterday, once again, they voted against democracy and human rights in Venezuela.

The sad vote was Mexico’s (apart from Uruguay that doesn’t seem to have it clear where it stands in terms of their support for Almagro, and Venezuelan democracy and respect for human rights).

Mexico had been one of the strategic leaders of the group of countries who had the courage to bring the conversation about democratic breakdown in Venezuela to the Permanent Council in 2017. On January 10, Mexico abstained. President López Obrador even authorized his charge d’affaires at the Mexican Embassy in Caracas to attend. A second-level official, yes, but…

Trinidad and Tobago, whose Prime Minister is close friends with Maduro, was the surprise vote. They abstained from the voting. Interesting.

This time the message coming from the OAS was clear, meridiano pues: “Enough with you Maduro.” If Guaidó and the democratic leadership in Venezuela understand the message of support, we all hope they have the courage to assume what we are all demanding from them: real leadership. This time with the full support of the international community, and finally, with an OAS Resolution sealing that support. APROBADO.

 

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