CARACAS, Venezuela, Friday April 28, 2017 – Venezuela is turning its back on the Organization of American States (OAS) because of what it says is the hemispheric body’s meddling in its affairs.
Yesterday, it formally presented an official letter to begin the process of pulling out of the bloc of which it is a founding member.
“Today, we formalize and present the letter to definitely pull out of this organization,” Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said in a press conference from the Foreign Ministry’s office in Caracas.
“We will defend the self-determination of our people,” she declared.
The action came on the heels of bitter objections raised by the Nicolas Maduro administration after OAS ambassadors approved a resolution convening a special meeting of regional foreign ministers to discuss the Venezuelan crisis.
Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, United States, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia and Uruguay voted in favour of the resolution, while Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Venezuela voted against it.
Belize, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago abstained from the vote.
Violent protests have rocked Venezuela since last month after the Supreme Court took over powers from the opposition-controlled National Assembly on March 29.
The decision was reversed three days later, but opposition protesters have been relentless in calling for the Maduro administration to step aside.
International media reports claim that close to 30 people have been killed in the demonstrations.
The Venezuelan Foreign Minister yesterday charged that the OAS was attempting to intervene and promote a coup in Venezuela, and maintained that President Maduro was forced to act to protect his country from arbitrary abuses and illegal actions.
“Today is a day of victory for Venezuela. We woke up today freer and more independent,” Rodriguez asserted.
She specifically pointed fingers at OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, accusing him of responding to US interests to destabilize Caracas.
Almagro has attracted criticism over the past year for repeatedly criticizing the Venezuelan Government and calling for the Democratic Charter to be applied against the country. The move would have led to Venezuela’s suspension from the organization.
Some OAS member states have reacted swiftly to Venezuela’s announcement.
Cuba, which was expelled from the OAS more than 50 years ago, blasted the body for what it called “interventionist abuses”.
Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez said that “Venezuela should not be isolated”, and the BBC reported that Argentina’s foreign minister Susan Malcorra called for mediation in Caracas.
Venezuela’s withdrawal process from the OAS will be completed in two years.