Nicaragua Rejects 'Partial' OAS Report, Slams 'Fake News'

Nicaragua's Foreign Minister Denis Moncada has rejected the new report by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (ICHR) as "subjective" and "partial."

Addressing the Organization of American States (OAS), Moncada said: "The report analyzes the social protests that occurred April 18, which did not result in any deaths.

"However, the media, manipulating information, published fake news about the death of a university student in the Central American University, which never happened. This information served as a detonator for the events that occurred from April 19 onward.

"Groups interested in the destabilization and rupture of the country's constitutional order, oblivious to any social claim, fueled riots from that day on, which became ravages, fires and looting.

"The Nicaraguan state expresses categorically its position regarding the events that the ICHR analyzes, which are not within the framework of social protests, rather... an attempt at constitutional and institutional rupture to change... the legitimately elected government."

Moncada went on to say that contrary to claims the protests were peaceful, from April 19 onward protesters began to use violent force, which resulted in numerous deaths.

The ICHR, a branch of the OAS, released a report condemning alleged excessive force by the Nicaraguan government against protests.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday also condemned Nicaragua for allegedly using excessive violence against "peaceful protesters."

"The police and pro-Nicaraguan government paramilitaries have intensified efforts to punish peaceful protesters," Haley said in a statement. She claims President Ortega is "using the political crisis to increase violence and repression."

Moncada countered that it is "not the policy of the state to repress social protests, and even less the excessive and arbitrary use of force by the National Police. It is enough to cite the multiple marches that have occurred in the country, in which no death occurred.

"There is absolute freedom of expression,and what's more this is sometimes abused, spreading fake news that keeps the population in confusion and provoces criminal acts, such as the burning of Radio Ya and Radio Nicaragua, acts which were omitted by the report, even though the life of working journalists was put in danger."

The foreign minister said the 143 deaths reported by the ICHR have "not been dutifully investigated and verified," and that several citizens have already come forward saying their identities were falsely reported as victims.

According to Moncada's statement, the "report deliberately omits all the armed attacks, sieges, harassment and kidnappings" on the part of protesters.

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Bolivia's Morales Slams 'Coup Attempts' by US, OAS in Venezuela

Evo Morales said he condemns U.S. coup attempts in Venezuela with the pretext of applying the OAS Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned Wednesday U.S. attempts at trashing the Bolivarian Revolutionary government of Venezuela .

RELATED: Venezuela's Maduro Accuses US of Infiltrating State Oil Company

The head of state took to his official Twitter account, writing, “We condemn the coup attempt of #EEUU [U.S.] that seeks to force an intervention of the brother people of Venezuela with the excuse of applying Inter-American Democratic Charter of the #OAS.”

He also called out U.S. Vice President Mike Pence describing his request to suspend Venezuela from the Organization of American States, or OAS, during the organization's 48th General Assembly as being “undemocratic.”

Morales added that Pence's position was in direct “violation of the principles of sovereignty and non-interference” in the internal affairs of other countries.

He said the United States is using the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS as a pretext to stir up regional support for a military intervention in Venezuela.

Apart from requesting Venezuela's suspension from the OAS, Pence also requested member countries impose new sanctions on the South American country

The Bolivian leader said he will not attend the OAS resolution that will start the process of suspending Venezuela from the organization. He argued that such a determination contravenes the principles of international law regarding the sovereignty of states.

Venezuela, led by President Nicolas Maduro, has repeatedly rejected constant aggression and interventionist measures spearheaded by the United States and its “junior partners” in the region, including, but not limited to, Peru, Colombia and Brazil.

On the other hand, Venezuelan authorities have argued that any attempt to suspend the country from the OAS is only an added provocation as the nation announced last year that it was leaving the regional bloc, a process that will be finalized in April 2019.

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Condemns 'Illegal OAS Resolution'

Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, condemned on Tuesday the illegal resolution approved during the session of the Organization of American States.

"Venezuela absolutely rejects the decisions that have been taken today by those 19 countries and we guarantee that we are going with our people to face our difficulties and we will solve our problems among Venezuelans without their interventions and interventionism in our country, Venezuela is free and sovereign," said the Venezuelan minister.

During the OAS session, Arreaza affirmed that Venezuela voluntarily withdrew from the organization because it does not help the peoples of the Americas, "as it has been demonstrated today and what it does is to generate conditions for interventionism and interference to violate public international law. "

The Venezuelan leader also stated in response to efforts to force Venezuela to accept humanitarian help, "The U.S. says that they are going to send humanitarian help to Venezuela. But they are not even able to help Puerto Rico, why would they help Venezuela?

Also, the Venezuelan official called for the lifting of sanctions and the unlocking of the nation's funds, and not for more sanctions to be imposed. "We are concerned that we Venezuelans organize ourselves democratically to solve our problems (...) Lift the sanctions against Venezuela and will be able to get ahead with our own resources," Arreaza said.

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Dismantling Unasur Would Be a 'Historical Error': Ex-Chief

Samper argued the regional integration body is more necessary today in the face of threats by 'foolish Donald Trump.' 

Ernesto Samper, the former secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), has warned that allowing the regional integration body to be dismantled or disappear would be a “historical error,” and would “weaken our countries when it is most needed to face the threats to the region and the world since the foolish Donald Trump presides over the United States.”  

ANALYSIS: How Lima Group Undermines Unasur's Regional Sovereignty Mission

Unasur entered a prolonged impasse in late April when six countries, all belonging to the United States aligned Lima Group, announced they were temporarily withdrawing from the South American integration body.

According to a joint letter sent to Bolivia, which holds the pro-tempore presidency of Unasur, the withdrawal was a response to the incapacity of Unasur countries to choose a secretary general since early 2017 when Samper, a former Colombian president (1994-1998), ended his term.

In an op-ed written for EFE, Samper detailed U.S. policies that threaten the region and said destroying Unasur will be akin to suicide.  

“Trump’s ‘axe of war’ contemplates the expulsion of Latino migrants who have lived in the United States for years; the construction of divisive walls in the border with Mexico; non-compliance with environmental regulation, that due to global warming increases the risk of natural disasters in the Caribbean; increasing taxes for our key exports; or questioning Colombia’s peace accords,” Samper explains.

RELATED: Ex-Unasur Chief: 'Aggressive' US Threatens Regional Integration 

“To disregard the joint response to such challenges is like jumping overboard when the storm rages,” Samper said.   

Despite the formal justification, some fear the intention is to dismantle Unasur. In a previous interview, Samper acknowledged the United States would prefer to have the Organization of American States as the only regional body.

The creation of Unasur did not only represent a regional body that excluded the U.S., but it also challenged U.S. military hegemony in the region.

The South American Defense Council “reiterated its commitment against foreign military bases in South America when former president Alvaro Uribe authorized the presence of several bases in the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Its implementation could’ve taken us to the brink of unseen levels of hemispheric conflict” Samper explained.

After presenting other Unasur accomplishments in the fields of migration, health, and education, Samper warned: “Lowering our guard against what has been achieved over the years, transforming what is now a space of integration into a field of controversy would be, as well as unforgivable, a serious historical error.”

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Peru: People's Summit Begins Against Neoliberal 'Counteroffensive'

The Peoples' Summit is an alternative to the Summit fo the Americas in which social movements and progressives gather to counter neoliberal policies. 

The Peoples’ Summit was set to start Tuesday in Lima as the region’s social movements, progressive political parties, Indigenous peoples, students and workers gather in a parallel summit to the high-level VIII Summit of the Americas.  

 

RELATED: Peru's New President: Summit of Americas to Continue as Planned

 

Between April 10 and 14, they will discuss how to confront neoliberal policies and discourse, the role the United States plays in the region, and the future for regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This year’s agenda is focused on several issues, among them the court’s decision to imprison former Brazilian president and Workers’ Party candidate for the 2018 presidential elections Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, U.S. economic and diplomatic hostilities against Venezuela, and Honduras’ post-electoral crisis, among others.    

“We are facing a strong neoconservative counteroffensive from the continental right-wing promoted and financed from the U.S. empire. The traditional economic and political elites impose austerity measures of a frontal attack against our rights,” the People Summit’s official declaration states. Argentina and Brazil are currently facing harsh austerity measures after progressive governments were defeated or illegally removed.

Geronimo Lopez, Secretary General of Peru’s General Confederation of Workers and one of this year’s organizers, told Cuban press the event will be “a great act of continental solidarity.” He also announced they will issue a statement in support of Lula, explaining the sentence against Lula is part of a strategy by the U.S. “to stop the achievements by Latin American countries during progressive governments.”  

 

IN PICTURES: Massive Argentine Protests Against Macri Austerity

 

Costa Rican intellectual, Jorge Coronado, said the summit will also discuss the situation in “Honduras, where there is a government as a result of electoral fraud, recognized by the Organization of American States (OAS) and that is not included in the agenda of the VIII Summit of the Americas.”

The Summit has also organized an anti-imperialist march for April 12, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump was scheduled to arrive under the banner “Trump, Get Out of Peru.” However, Washington announced later Tuesday that Trump will not go to Lima, saying the U.S. president will remain in the White House to oversee U.S. response to Syria. 

In 2005, the Peoples’ Summit led by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and former Brazilian President Lula, defeated the reiterated attempts by the U.S. of create the Free Trade Area of the Americas, opposed by social movements in the region.

Today, country’s delegations to the alternative summit “will stimulate the rearticulation of popular struggles in the continent, militant solidarity, and the confluence of left-wing and progressive forces in the region, in order to stop neoconservative counteroffensive, defeat it and reopen a transformative perspective for the benefit of the excluded majorities.”

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Cuba rejects OAS remarks on Cuba's democratic system

Cuba rejected on Tuesday recent statements made by Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the Organization of America States (OAS), on the island's democratic system, saying he had no "credibility" to speak about Cuba.

Speaking to local media, Rogelio Sierra, Cuba's deputy foreign minister, stated Almagro's remarks about Cuba were made in Miami city in U.S. Florida state where he met with a group of people who "defend, support and encourage aggressive actions" against Cuba, including terrorism and the U.S. economic blockade.

"Almagro has no credibility, moral or ethics, to judge what the Cuban government and its people do. He makes a big mistake in ignoring our decision to be sovereign and independent," said Sierra.

The OAS official visited Miami last Saturday to visit a Cuban dissident group. He used the occasion to call for "democratic reforms" and demanded that Havana hold Western-style elections to choose its next leader as actual president, Raul Castro, will step down in April.

Havana's deputy foreign minister pointed out that Almagro tried to delegitimize Cuba's sovereignty and independence to decide its political system while supporting "illegal opposition groups and their allies in the U.S."

"He met in Miami with a sector of the Cuban community in the United States, which still dreams of overthrowing the Revolution. On the contrary, he has not said a word about recent remarks made by the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who supported a military coup against Venezuela," said Sierra.

Despite being a founding member of the OAS, Cuba was suspended in 1962. In June 2009, foreign ministers of OAS member countries lifted Cuba's suspension.

Havana, however, has reiterated it would not return to the OAS.

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OAS Calls for Honduran Election to be Redone

“The people of Honduras deserve an electoral process that confers them democratic quality and guarantees,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in a statement.

The Organization of American States, OAS, called for a new round of elections Sunday to guarantee voter rights are being respected and the procedure is being observed.RELATED: Honduras Election Court Sides With 'Fraud' Candidate Hernandez as Protests Rage On

The Electoral Tribunal announced Sunday, the results of the recount, saying presidential candidate and incumbent leader, Juan Orlando Hernandez had won by 1.53 percentage points. 

However, the OAS electoral observer mission said Sunday that though it could not confirm that the election had been “intentionally manipulated”, the process was filled with suspicious inconsistencies.

“The people of Honduras deserve an electoral process that confers them democratic quality and guarantees,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in a statement. He added: “The electoral process that the tribunal concluded today clearly did not provide that."

The OAS said the only way for the Hondurans to be properly represented and for the victor to reflect the votes of the people would be to conduct a new election that adheres to the strictest measure of the law.

The inconsistencies of the TSE’s review process were discussed during a late press conference with the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM). According to the foreign delegation, the 82 experts had not ensured that the necessary precautions had not been taken to guarantee it’s integrity.

The OAS observers encouraged Hondurans to “remain calm and act responsibly”, assuring that the issue will be resolved, denouncing the number of deaths and injuries which have resulted from a series of violent protests around the nation.

However, the European Union election observers have stated they did not encounter any irregularities in the process.

RELATED: Nasralla: Fraud Before, During and After the Elections

“After comparing a large random sample of voting records provided to us by the Alliance and the original records published on the tribunal’s website, the mission observed that the results presented practically no differences,” said Jose Antonio de Gabriel, the adjunct head of the EU’s mission.

For his part, the opposition candidate, Santiago Nasralla, expressed through a video posted on Facebook that "It is clear that there was fraud before, during and after the elections. (...) The President of the Republic at this moment is an impostor, and the Honduran people know it ".

Nasralla called for a resurgence of protests Monday. The leftist candidate arrives in the United States and plans to meet with Almagro as well as members of the State Department and human rights organizations to denounce the alleged fraudulent elections and solve the current political crisis.

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US Black Group Lauds Caricom's Stance on Venezuela

The IBW urged Caricom nations to resist pressure from Washington and the OAS, and continue to stand firm in their principled position concerning Venezuela.

On Saturday, New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) said it was “very concerned about reports of racist violence by right-wing, anti-Government forces targeting members of the Afro-Venezuelan community.”

RELATED: Morales Slams Supporters of Venezuela's Opposition Plebiscite

IBW called on the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus to investigate these reports and to support the Caribbean Community's (Caricom) position by demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump's Administration “cease and desist interfering in Venezuela's domestic affairs, and in undermining its national sovereignty.”

The group also condemned recent efforts by the Organization of American States' (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro and a “small group of powerful states in the OAS who are relentlessly attacking the Venezuelan Government, openly supporting the Opposition forces, and are attempting to divide and weaken the solidarity of the 15 Caricom member states of the OAS on their stance towards the crisis in Venezuela.”

IBW lauded the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, for upholding “Article 15 of the OAS Charter, which says that 'no state, or group of states, has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.'”

The OAS Charter says “this principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century urged all Caricom countries to “resist pressure from Washington and from the OAS, and continue to stand firm in their united and principled position concerning the crisis in Venezuela.”

In a statement from the conclusion of recently concluded 38th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom, held in Grenada earlier this month, Caricom leaders “reaffirmed their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”

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