(Photo: Fernando Llano AP)
Key Latin American countries have in recent days stepped up their pressure on Venezuela’s regime to restore democracy, but the region must take a much bolder step to stop the brutal repression of opposition protests that has already led to at least 45 deaths.
Before we get into what Latin American countries should do, let’s applaud the fact that the 34-country Organization of American States (OAS) earlier this week passed a resolution to convene a meeting of the region’s foreign ministers on May 31 to discuss Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis.
This was a victory for pro-democracy forces, because the Venezuelan regime had tried to prevent that high-level meeting. The proposal was approved by 18 votes — including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and virtually all major countries in the region — with 13 abstentions, many of them from Caribbean islands that are dependent on Venezuela’s oil subsidies.
But the bad news is that an 18-country majority won’t suffice to impose regional diplomatic sanctions on Venezuela. Under OAS regulations, the May 31 meeting will need a two-thirds majority — at least 24 votes — which, according to well-placed diplomats, will be very difficult to achieve.
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