Caricom to Almagro: 'You Don't Speak For The Entire OAS'

The Caribbean Community has written to Luis Almagro rejecting his position on Venezuela.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has rejected Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro's unilateral decision to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

RELATED: Luis Almagro Calls for Foreign Intervention in Nicaragua Again

In a letter to Almagro dated Jan. 31, Caricom expressed its “disapproval and grave concern with regard to the position that you [Almagro], in your capacity as Secretary-General, have adopted, by recognizing President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Juan Guaido as interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” in the words of Timothy Harris, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, chairman of the conference.

Caricom held an emergency meeting on Jan. 24 attended by heads of state from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the foreign ministers of Grenada and Suriname.

The Caribbean states deemed Almagro’s decision “inappropriate” because he didn’t have the full support of OAS member states, and they demanded he publicly confirm he doesn't speak on their behalf.

"We are aware that this is not the only occasion on which you have made public utterances in the name of the organisation without authority," the letter reads.

"This type of unilateral action by a head of an international organisation, whose membership comprises sovereign states, is a clear departure from normal practice and causes great concern."

Almagro recognized Guaido as soon as he was appointed interim president by the National Assembly, in judicial contempt, on Jan. 23.

The following day, OAS member states rejected a resolution by the Argentine delegation, contradicting the position adopted by Almagro, the United States, and Latin American right-wing governments.

Distancing from the previous secretaries’ more neutral position, in June 2018 Almagro filed a complaint against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged crimes against humanity.

He was expelled from his own Broad Front of Uruguay (FA) party in December due to his interventionist comments against the Venezuelan government and others in Latin America.

“One thing is having a critical position about the situation in Venezuela or other countries in Latin America, and another very different one is to actively criticize one of the countries from a position that should generate consensus in the Americas, besides having a perspective absolutely in line with that of the United States, even showing sympathy for an eventual invasion,” said Jose Carlos Mahia, FA’s vice-president.

Almagro served as foreign minister during Mujica’s presidency (2010-2015) and was a member of the Movement of Popular Participation (MPP), a socialist party founded by former guerrilla fighters of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement (MLN-T).

His position drastically changed after he was named secretary general of the OAS and he recently said he had “irreconcilable differences” with the FA regarding “human rights and democracy.”

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Ecuador: Election Body Uninvites OAS From Upcoming Elections

Atamaint said Ecuadorean election processes have changed and that international observers are no longer permitted to interview officials, either national or partisan.

The chair of Ecuador's National Electoral Council (CNE), Diana Atamaint, said that the Organization of American States (OAS) "did not respect" the country's rules in a 2018 national referendum and, as a consequence, will not be invited to observe local elections scheduled for Mar. 24, 2019.

RELATED: Unions, Indigenous Movements March Against Austerity in Ecuador

According to Atamaint, the OAS' mission in Ecuador was meant to monitor the legal terms which were used to call the elections, not the electoral process.

Atamaint also added that Ecuadorean electoral norms have changed and that now international observers are not permitted to interview CNE officials, national authorities, party leaders or candidates; nor will observers be allowed to register or report disputes, irregularities or conflicts during the upcoming elections.

Wednesday, the OAS denied that there was any violation of Ecuadorean standards during the 2018 elections.

The body further explained that the 2018 OAS observation mission fulfilled its work obligation "in strict compliance with the agreement of immunities and privileges signed with the Ecuadorean Government as well as with the agreement of procedures signed with the CNE."

Como candidata al expreso mi preocupación debido a que la autoridad ecuatoriana, el CNE, se rehúsa a invitar a la como observador de las elecciones del 24 de marzo. La transparencia es el principio fundamental para garantizar que se respete el voto popular. 

"As a candidate, I express my concern because the Ecuadorean authority, the CNE, refuses to invite the OAS as an observer of the elections on March 24. Transparency is the fundamental principle to ensure that the popular vote is respected."

The OAS expresses regret that the Ecuadorean authorities had decided to not invite the mission to observe the upcoming elections and shared concern at changes in the country's monitoring regulations.

"I would like to express our concern at your statements regarding changes in the regulations for electoral observation in Ecuador, which would establish that observers will not be able to conduct interviews... Nor will they register and report disputes, irregular situations or conflicts.

"The foregoing would preclude any kind of independent and impartial electoral observation," Gerardo de Icaza, director of the OAS Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, said in a letter addressed to Atamain.

The officer recounted that the OAS has deployed some 20 electoral observation missions in Ecuador since 1968, all of which has contributed to the strengthening of the Ecuadorean electoral system.

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Venezuela Rejects ‘Dangerous’ Resolution by the OAS

The Venezuelan government deemed the resolution a "flagrant violation of international law" and a threat to the "people's right to peace."

Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued an official statement Friday in response to a “dangerous” resolution approved Thursday during an extraordinary session of the Organization of American States (OAS).

IN PICTURES: Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro Takes Office Amid Popular Support

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela condemns the measures of coercion used in our region by the United States regime to promote its criminal aggression campaign against the People and government of Venezuela to further its policy of regime change in our country in flagrant violation of international law,” the communique shared by Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza states.

Thursday’s OAS declaration (sponsored by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Peru, and Paraguay) seeks to disavow the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected for a second term in May 2018. His runner up, Henry Falcon obtained only 21 percent of the vote, partly because a section of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition decided to boycott the elections.  

The Venezuelan government also thanked the countries that refused to sign the declaration, knowing that “this judicial manipulation threatens our people’s right to peace and endangers the stability of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Despite U.S. pressure, the OAS declaration did not manage to gain new supporters. A fact celebrated by Venezuela.

The statement concluded with a defense of the right of Venezuelan people to self-determination and to elect its national authorities. “Sovereignty resides in the Venezuelan people, the only that can grant legitimacy to the powers of the Venezuelan state.”

Venezuela has long been targeted by the OAS. However, on Thursday the spokesperson for the head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said they “will continue working with the government of Venezuela" and stressed it is not their role to recognize or not recognize elected governments.

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Luis Almagro Calls for Foreign Intervention in Nicaragua Again

“We have an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes,” the OAS secretary general said.

Even over the holidays things didn’t calm down for Nicaragua. During the break the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, has tried to begin proceedings against Nicaragua under the Inter-American Decmocratic Charter. He cited Article 20 of the Charter, which states it can be activated when a “member state produces an alteration in the constitutional order that seriously harms democratic order” (see here for a typical report on the story, which was taken from Associated Press coverage).

Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada responded immediately, writing to his fellow ministers in the OAS. He said: “The Inter-American Democratic Charter does not empower Secretary General Luis Almagro to support coup groups against the State and the legally constituted Government of Nicaragua, as Luis Almagro has done in violation of the Charter of the OAS.”

A full radio interview with Denis Moncada is available here on a U.S. public radio station.

The aim of the move by Almagro is not to expel Nicaragua from the OAS (though that is possible), but to speed up the sanctions against Nicaragua proposed by the United States in the recently signed off NICA Act.

Nicaragua clashed with Almagro earlier this autumn, when the OAS secretary general called for military intervention in Venezuela. His remarks came days after U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (who has been the main cheerleader for the Nicaraguan opposition during the attempted coup) called for military action to remove President Maduro, and also called for the international community to “asphixiate the dictatorsip which is being installed in Nicaragua” (see here).

Almagro’s remarks were widely condemned, even as he tried to say he had been misquoted. However he still drew criticism for his increasingly hawkish views (see here for a response from the OAS Ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda – No Vigilante Action in the Americas).

The Nicaraguan opposition visited Washington this autumn after Almagro’s military intervention. Violeta Granera, an ex-vice presidential candidate with the PLI and a former minister in the Bolanos Government 2000-7, joined fellow Liberal Jose Pallais (a former deputy foreign minister during the Chamorro Government 1990-97) to lobby Alamagro to activate the Democratic Charter (see here).

The pair are no strangers to Almagro, or indeed in calling for the activation of the Democratic Charter. In 2016, three days before the presidential elections which Daniel Ortega won with over 70 percent of the vote, the pair travelled to Washington to meet with Almagro. On his return Jose Pallais said their dialogue with the OAS was “the first step before the activation’ of the Democratic Charter” (see here).

The OAS meeting will take place next week. Almagro’s call can expect support from Trump’s United States and the Brazilian government led by President Jair Bolsonaro, widely described as a fascist. The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, travelled to Brazil on January 2 to attend Bolsanaro’s inauguration.

Their agenda, and indeed the agenda of Almagro, is clear. Pompeo said Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were countries that do not share the democratic values that unite the United States and Brazil. “We have an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes,” he said at a news conference (see here).

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Nicaragua's FM Continues Diplomatic Visit to the Caribbean

Saint John, Jan 4 (Prensa Latina) Nicaragua's Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada, is continuing Friday his diplomatic visit to the Caribbean with high-level meetings in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The visit will conclude on Saturday, January 5, and will include six other countries in the region.

Moncada visited Haiti on Thursday and talked with his counterpart, Bocchit Edmond, about issues of interest between both governments.

During his brief stay in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the FM will talk to Prime Ministers Gaston Browne and Ralph Gonzalves, respectively, official sources said.

The other countries to visit are Grenada, Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis and include high-level diplomatic meetings to discuss mutually beneficial matters.

The Nicaraguan Foreign Minister will conclude the visit in Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, where he will be hosted by his counterpart, Denis Moses.

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Nicaragua Brands as Illegal Attempts to Apply OAS Democratic Charter

Managua, Jan 3 (Prensa Latina) Nicaragua has accused OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro of illegally maneuvering to attempt to apply the organization''s Democratic Charter to this Central American nation.

In a letter to his Latin American and Caribbean peers, Nicaragua's Foreign Minister Denis Moncada has denounced Almagro's moves to promote the application of article 20 of the charter against a constitutional and legally-elected government 'are unprecedented, illegal, without legal basis and contravenes the very same Inter-American Democratic Charter and the Charter of the Organization of American States'.

Moncada recalls the Democratic Charter was conceived as a means of restoring democratically elected governments and a mechanism against coup d'état and the deposition by force of democratically elected leaders. And stressed this is not the case of Nicaragua.

In Nicaragua, the democratically elected legitimate authority is the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, led by President Daniel Ortega, underlines the Foreign Minister.

It was elected in 2016, for the period 2017-2021, with the favorable vote of 72.44 percent of Nicaraguan voters, through free universal and internationally supervised voting, and enjoys the recognition of the international community, the letter adds.

The FM further emphasizes the Democratic Charter is respectful of the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty, self-determination and the prior consent of the affected government to activate it.

'These requirements are being illegally, maliciously and perversely ignored by Secretary General Luis Almagro against the people of Nicaragua and their democratic, legal and legitimate government,' Moncada insists.

The Nicaraguan Government asserts the OAS Secretary General 'is not authorized under the current circumstances of our country to request the immediate and urgent convening of the Permanent Council based on Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.'

It also calls on OAS Member States 'not to allow or support these unfounded actions that affect peace, stability and friendly cooperation between our peoples and governments.'

Minister Moncada recalls that as of April 2018, opposition sectors, sponsored and financed from abroad, launched a series of acts of terrorism through assassinations, kidnappings, torture, damage and burning of public and private property, obstruction and destruction of roads and highways.

All with the purpose -he adds- of destroying the constitutional order of the country, causing a rupture of the democratic order to force a de-facto change of government, constituting this an attempted coup d'état that affected peace, security and the stability of the Nicaraguan people.

Such actions have been neutralized by the government of Nicaragua, that continues to function normally, Moncada assures.

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Venezuela's Government to Denounce Luis Almagro to UN

Caracas, Sep 15 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced today that they will denounce the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, before the UN for promoting a military intervention against the country.

On Twitter, she accused Almagro of 'attacking the Latin America and Caribbean peace.'

'Venezuela will denounce to the UN and other international bodies Almagro, who in a vulgar and grotesque manner holds the General Secretariat of the OAS, for promoting military intervention in our Homeland and attacking the peace of Latin America and the Caribbean!' tweeted Rodriguez.

She also accused the official of trying to 'revive the worst records of imperialist armed interference in our region, whose stability is seriously threatened by the insane actions of those who usurp in a deviant and abusive manner the OAS General Secretariat.'

The accusations by the Venezuelan authorities are based on statements made by the OAS's top representative, this Friday, at a press conference held on the Colombian side of the Simon Bolivar binational bridge, a few meters from the border with Venezuela.

'Talking abot the military intervention to overthrow Nicolas Maduro, I think we should not rule out any option,' said Almagro.

The repeated announcements of a possible military attack against the Bolivarian Revolution have recently been increased by the governments of the United States, the European Union and its allies in the region, who are unaware of the legitimacy of the elected powers by the people, in order to undermine the institutions and plagued them with foreign tutelage.

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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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