Various members of the Organization of American States urged the body Monday to reject Venezuela’s elections and to begin moves to kick Caracas out of the club.
Costa Rican Vice President and Foreign Minister Epsy Campbell kicked off the meeting by expressing Costa Rica’s decision not to recognize Venezuela’s recent elections. While this was not a new posture for Costa Rica, her Venezuelan counterpart was quick to respond.
“I think we didn’t expect Costa Rica to join the aggression against Costa Rica so quickly,” said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Alberto Arreza, according to the daily La Nación. He went on to say that a “corporation of countries” has aligned against his country.
There is anger among pan-American nations at Venezuela’s slide into chaos and autocratic rule, fueled by what U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dubbed President Nicolas Maduro’s attempt to “dismantle democracy.”
At the opening of the 48th annual meeting of the group, the United States and Costa Rica were joined by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Peru in proposing a resolution to reject the result of last month’s “unconstitutional” election in Venezuela.
The motion is could lead to Venezuela being symbolically suspended from the regional body, although Caracas has already announced its own intent to pull out.
In May, Maduro was returned to power in a vote that was largely boycotted by the opposition and denounced as an unconstitutional assault on democracy by Washington and most of Venezuela’s neighbors.
Suspending the South American country, which sits on the world’s biggest proven oil reserves, “would show that the OAS backs up its words with action and it sends a powerful signal to the Maduro regime, only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations,” Pompeo said.
The top U.S. diplomat accused Maduro of “dismantling democracy,” and urged more Latin American countries to join the United States in imposing increased economic and diplomatic sanctions on his administration.
The Venezuelan leader later hit back, accusing the United States of developing a “blackmail campaign” and threatening the governments of Latin America into compliance.
“Every time an OAS General Assembly approaches, we watch the same movie,” Maduro said during a function in Caracas.
The political crisis in Venezuela dominated the opening exchanges of the annual meeting in Washington, although Nicaragua also came under fire for its own harsh crackdown on opposition protesters.
A draft text, which should be voted on Tuesday, declared support for the people of Nicaragua and for all parties to engage “constructively in peaceful negotiations to strengthen democratic institutions and hold free, fair and timely elections.”