OAS Backs Recall Referendum as Spat With Venezuela Intensifies

  • Permanent Council to meet on ‘break in constitutional order’
  • OAS chief urges recall referendum be allowed to go ahead

A spat between the head of the Organization of American States and the Venezuelan government reached new heights Tuesday when the regional body backed a recall referendum on President Nicolas Maduro.

The OAS invoked its democratic charter to review the political situation in Venezuela at a meeting of its Permanent Council between June 10 and 20. The statement was linked to a 132-page report signed by its secretary-general, Luis Almagro, urging the recall referendum this year and the release of political prisoners.

The meeting “will address the break of the constitutional order and grave affect on the democratic order in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” the OAS said in the statement on its website.

QuickTake Venezuela's Revolution

Almagro and Maduro have been trading insults for months. The head of the OAS issued a statement two weeks ago mocking Maduro’s accusations that he is a “traitor” and “CIA agent,” and accusing him of betraying his people with his “supposed ideology.” Maduro immediately slammed the OAS action at a rally Tuesday in Caracas and accused Almagro of trying to provoke an intervention from the U.S.

“I’m the target of attacks of the world’s oligarchies and their puppets,” Maduro said. “We’ll win this battle at the OAS and in the streets.”

Opposition Campaign

Tuesday’s statement, which also called for the opposition-led National Assembly to have its power restored and for the impartiality of the Supreme Court, comes as the opposition doubles down on its effort to oust Maduro, who they blame for the worst economic recession in decades. They have called for a recall referendum and nationwide protests against his government. Maduro was elected in 2013 to a six-year term following the death of President Hugo Chavez.

Maduro said Tuesday that he would file charges against national assembly president Henry Ramos Allup and other opposition leaders for overstepping their authority by asking the OAS to invoke the democratic charter. A day earlier, he said that he would deploy military in the streets across the country to fight crime.

Speaking at a news conference earlier Tuesday in Caracas, National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup didn’t comment on the implications of the upcoming OAS meeting, but said the opposition would continue insisting that a referendum be held this year. He denied reports that members of opposition alliance had met with government officials over the weekend about the possibility of talks to help resolve the political crisis.

The OAS report offered a detailed analysis of the current economic, political and social situation in Venezuela. It called for the appointment of new impartial justices to the Supreme Court, urgent action by the government to address nationwide food shortages, deteriorating health care and a surge in crime.

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