The decision was announced after the OAS Permanent Council approved a convening of foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela, without the country’s consent. There were 19 votes in favor of holding the meeting, 10 against, one abstention and one absence.
Slamming the OAS for calling the meeting, Rodriguez said the U.S.-based regional organization seeks to criminalize the government and destabilize constitutional democracy. These actions, she said, are intended to facilitate regime change and foreign intervention.
Venezuelan OAS representative Samuel Moncada echoed Rodriguez’s concerns, adding that right-wing member states are pressuring Venezuela to accept intervention in their internal affairs.
For these reasons, Venezuela has decided to pull out of the 35-member organization. Mainstream media, however, paint a radically different picture of the situation.
Corporate news outlets not only portray the country’s OAS exit as an example of the government attempting to “maintain its grip on power” amid opposition protests. They also leave out the organization’s double standard toward leftist countries like Venezuela and disregard for human rights abuses occurring in countries run by right-wing governments.
Here are some examples.
On April 3, the OAS held an extraordinary meeting on Venezuela, despite objections from Bolivia, the pro tempore president country of the organization. Bolivian OAS representative Diego Pary Rodriguez claimed the meeting violated Venezuela’s sovereignty, given that the regional body was intervening in the country’s internal affairs.
But the OAS went ahead with the meeting without Bolivia’s approval, appointing right-wing Honduras as the “interim president.” Pary and his counterparts from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Dominica and Haiti slammed the move as an “institutional coup.”
In the weeks leading up to and following the April 3 meeting, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro called for regime change in Venezuela, supporting violent opposition protesters. Almagro’s support for foreign intervention against a democratically-elected government called into question his bias against the South American country.
And in 2014, when opposition protests claimed the lives of up to 43 people, several OAS member states like the U.S. and Panama blamed President Nicolas Maduro, calling for his ouster. They blamed Maduro even though most of the deaths were attributed to anti-government protesters.
On April 11, 2002, however, when former president Hugo Chavez was temporarily removed in a right-wing coup, the OAS ignored the socialist government’s call for assistance. The organization waited days to begin holding meetings about the illegal power grab. By the time they met, Chavez was already back in power.
Mainstream media also fail to mention the OAS’ lack of action against human rights abuses committed in countries with right-wing governments.
In Mexico, for example, five journalists have been killed in the last eight weeks, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported. Four campesinos involved in the land rights struggle were killed by police this month alone. And the country’s femicide rate has been on the rise.
In Colombia, 35 social justice leaders have been killed since the beginning of the year, the United Nations reported. In January and February alone, 3,549 people from over 900 families were displaced across Colombia, most of whom are Indigenous and Black. In 2016, a total of 59 homicides were committed against human rights advocates and a total of 11,363 people from over 3,000 families were displaced.
And in Honduras, hundreds of activists representing Black, Indigenous, LGBTI, labor and campesino organizations have been systematically killed since the 2009 coup that removed leftist president Manuel Zelaya. Although the OAS temporarily suspended Honduras after the coup, the country was eventually reinstated despite knowing about government-sanctioned violence against protesters. Honduras was named the most dangerous country in the world for land and environmental defenders this year by NGO Global Witness.
It remains clear that human rights atrocities committed in right-wing countries like Mexico, Colombia and Honduras far surpass anything Venezuela has ever been accused of. Keeping this in mind, those with sound reasoning should question the OAS’ double standard against Venezuela and mainstream media’s complicity in perpetuating false narratives.