San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Foreign Affairs

Costa Rica, Venezuela clash at OAS summit in Mexico

The foreign ministers of Costa Rica and Venezuela engaged in a verbal spat after delegates at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) failed to reach an agreement on a joint statement on how to help stabilize the political and social crisis in the South American country.

A total of 34 delegates from OAS member countries are meeting Monday to Wednesday in Cancún, Mexico. Foreign ministers are working to respond to the more than two months of anti-government protests in Venezuela, during which more than 70 people have died.

Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Manuel González Sanz on Monday criticized the regime of President Nicolás Maduro, whom he accused of persecuting opponents, civilians and journalists. He also blamed Venezuela’s government for “creating a systemic and structural crisis, for violating its own Constitution, and for spending its resources on weapons and arming civil groups.”

González said that the OAS can not remain silent “before a government that deliberately suspends elections and acts with total impunity.”

He noted that this whole situation happens, “paradoxically,” while Venezuela holds a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council, “and while some of us members of the international community are not getting any support in our attempts to help.”

“Instead, we are often being rejected and insulted,” he added.

Gonzalez said that it is not enough that the OAS keep voicing concerns about the situation in Venezuela. He stressed that “it is necessary to condemn violent acts, the economic and political crisis, the shortages of food and medicines, and the violation of rights and freedoms.”

Venezuela reacts

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez asked for the floor immediately after González’ speech. She said Venezuela repudiated everything González had said and that she wanted to make public “a formal protest against Costa Rica’s statements.”

Rodríguez went on to call González “politically illiterate” and accused him of promoting violence in Venezuela.

“About the reality of Venezuela I will only tell you that you are politically illiterate. You don’t know anything about Venezuela,” she said.

She also said that González has joined the group of those who “hysterically lament” the lack of international intervention in Venezuela, adding that González should blame, for all the problems he mentioned, “the hegemonic country causing the biggest inequality and hunger, not only in this region, but on the entire planet.”

Minister González then replied to his Venezuelan counterpart on his social media profiles.

“Venezuela’s Honorable Foreign Minister Mrs. Delcy Rodríguez called me a ‘political illiterate,’ as a means to disqualify, with personal attacks, the strength of our arguments and assessments on the situation in our brother country,” he wrote. “With honesty and respect, I’d like to say that I prefer to be politically illiterate than a well-versed connoisseur of repressive practices against people who want only peace and freedom.”

Failed summit

In keeping with the tone of this spat, the meeting of Foreign Ministers on Venezuela failed to reach a consensus.

A bloc of countries first proposed drafting oa document to authorize an OAS intervention in the South American country. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay requested a series of measures to stabilize the situation in Venezuela.

The proposed plan urged President Nicolás Maduro to reconsider his call for a Constituent Assembly, to guarantee respect for human rights, and accept dialogue with the opposition parties that would be mediated by a group of OAS countries.

The proposal faced immediate opposition from the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA. It ultimately failed to obtain the minimum of 23 votes required approval, with only 20 votes in favor, five against and eight abstentions.

Representatives of the CARICOM group, in response, submitted their own plan, mostly proposing that the solution of the Venezuelan crisis should be resolved internally. This proposal also failed, as it obtained 14 votes against, eight votes in favor and 11 abstentions.

The Venezuelan delegates then left the meeting.

On Tuesday morning, during the OAS General Assembly, the countries in favor of the intervention in Venezuela issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment at the lack of a regional consensus about the Venezuelan crisis. They demanded that Maduro’s government free all political prisoners, stop all violence, respect human rights, schedule national elections, and allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, among other petitions.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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