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US and Venezuela clash then agree to talks at OAS Assembly

A confrontation erupted between US Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Delcy Rodriguez at the 46th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Santo Domingo on Tuesday morning, 14 June 2016.

The showdown began when Kerry began speaking about Venezuela and expressed concern about the internal situation there, saying he was ready to begin a dialogue to try and prevent the crisis from escalating. He said that many people had died waiting in line for food and medicine and called for the release of all political prisoners. He said that the General Assembly should apply the Democratic Card against Venezuela and called for Venezuela to hold a referendum on the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The invocation of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS is scheduled for review at a meeting set for 23 June 2016 at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Kerry’s remarks at the 46th OAS General Assembly were:

“With these positive examples in mind, we remain strongly committed to working with all OAS member-states in order to remedy the deeply troubling situation in Venezuela. Like all people of the Americas, Venezuelans have the right to use constitutional mechanisms to express their will in a peaceful and a democratic manner. The United States joins with Secretary General Almagro and others in the international community in calling on the Venezuelan Government to release political prisoners, to respect freedom of expression and assembly, to alleviate shortages of food and medicine, and to honor its own constitutional mechanisms, including a fair and timely recall referendum that is part of that constitutional process. The secretary general’s invocation of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter will open a much-needed discussion about Venezuela within this organization’s permanent council, and we stand ready to participate in that discussion, and along with our OAS partners, help facilitate that national dialogue that will ultimately address the political, economic, social and humanitarian dimensions of this crisis. I emphasize the humanitarian dimensions. Just this morning, we learned of people who are dying in a food line, or waiting to get medical help that they need.”

In response to Kerry’s statements in Santo Domingo, Minister Rodriguez accused the United States of double standards by interfering in other countries’ affairs. She said Venezuela was a victim of international bullying. She said that she had to defend Venezuela, which she described as “a free and sovereign nation,” and reminded her audience that Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera, the longest-incarcerated political prisoner in the world, was still serving his sentence in a US federal prison.

She went on to accuse the United States of creating the humanitarian crisis on the planet, and said that if it wanted to help Venezuela it could do so by lifting the economic blockade. The Foreign Minister said that Venezuela did not need handouts.

“I feel that the master of the world has spoken, he has the audacity to speak for other countries,” said Rodriguez. She was critical of OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro who she said that far from taking on a reflecting and self-critical position and asking for an apology to the Dominican Republic for the 1965 invasion, is now expecting to invade Venezuela. She said Almagro was on the payroll of the US government to promote a coup in Venezuela.

After the session, Kerry held a private meeting with Rodriguez. According to Listin Diario, Kerry said the meeting was respectful and that both had agreed to open talks between their governments to discuss solutions to the political crisis in Venezuela, where the opposition is demanding a referendum to end Maduro’s mandate.

In a US government press briefing on the meeting, the US Secretary of State’s spokesman John Kirby commented: “The meeting is providing the Secretary an opportunity as well to exchange views and to reiterate our call for national dialogue in order to find solutions to the political, economic, human rights, and social challenges that are facing Venezuela right now, as well as to call for respect for the constitutional mechanisms, including the recall referendum process.”

Despite Haiti and Venezuela not being on the agenda for the OAS 46th General Assembly, news reports say the current political situation in both countries has been the focus of delegates.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

June 15, 2016

Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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