The 46th Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly will take place between June 13th to June 15th in the Dominican Republic. The main issue, scheduled several months ago, is "Institutional Strengthening for Sustainable Development in the Americas." It is a key matter indeed. Weak democracies cannot afford a serious scarcity of public safety, inequity, lack of free press, unemployment and discrimination.
There was a little progress between the years of 2005 to 2012. Poverty decreased and many people started to belong to a modest middle class, mainly in huge countries like Brazil. But governments spent a lot, increased the fiscal expenses and poverty and inequity started to reverse. As for statistics from 2015, poverty increased in such a way, that again, Latin America has 175 million people living in poverty and the figure has been increasing in current 2016. 75 million of those who are poor live without basic needs.
Poverty means millions without basic education and as a consequence more violence and less public safety.
This 46th OAS General Assembly wants to create an action plan to strengthen the institutions, but unfortunately what we find today, and it will be the center of the discussion, is the lack of respect to democratic values from populist governments, which are bringing deep unrest in the region. Venezuela will be at the top of the discussions inside Civil Society meetings, and, of course, in the frame of the General Assembly.
Just some days ago, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro decided to invoke the Democratic Charter for the unrest that is taking place in Venezuela. In a 132 page report to the OAS Permanent Council, Almagro documented the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro government’s sweeping breaches of the rule of law and the mounting humanitarian crisis caused by food, medicine and power shortages. He called for the immediate release of political prisoners and steps to repair institutions and combat corruption. More importantly, he stressed that a recall referendum on Maduro, sought by the opposition and provided for in the constitution, should be held this year. “On that depends democracy in Venezuela,” the report concluded.
The request made by Almagro was considered in a meeting of the Permanent Council. There was an Argentine-sponsored alternate resolution calling for giving more time to a mediation effort by former Presidents Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, Martin Torrijos of Panama and former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain “to reopen an effective dialogue” between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. A resolution which only delays the problem, which is going to be on and off the record in the OAS General Assembly next week.
Venezuela needs OAS action, and now, to prevent a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis. Previous mediations have proved to be too tolerant of Maduro’s systematic violation of the rule of law, and have failed. This time, there is no reason to expect a different result.
The discussion on the Venezuelan situation will bring to the OAS General Assembly the issues of lack of respect to democracy in the region, increasing discrimination and violence, and will also show that there is a long distance "for sustainable development in the Americas."
B´nai B´rith will actively participate next weekend in the discussions inside the Civil Society and in the dialogue of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with the OAS secretary general. We will stress the need to face discrimination and particularly anti-Semitism, through not only the local anti-discriminatory laws, but with a joint regional decision to apply the Inter American Convention Against Discrimination.
Civil Society should be very steady demanding the respect to the rule of law and human rights, which are today widely violated in several countries, but, above all, in Venezuela where the lack of food, medicines and power has made the life of the population very hard and inhuman.
Read more about OAS here.
Eduardo Kohn, Ph.D., has been the B’nai B’rith executive vice president in Uruguay since 1981 and the B’nai B’rith International director of Latin American affairs since 1984. Before joining B'nai B'rith, he worked for the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, the Israel-Uruguay Chamber of Commerce and Hebrew College in Montevideo. He is a published author of “Zionism, 100 years of Theodor Herzl,” and writes op-eds for publications throughout Latin America. He graduated from the State University of Uruguay with a doctorate in diplomacy and international affairs. To view some of his additional content, Click Here.