No. 40October 24,
General Assembly of Organization of American States
Dirty Role to Advance U.S. Imperialist Aims in Latin America
Hamilton picket against
the Lima Group meeting held in Ottawa on February 20, 2020.
• Opinion: OAS General Assembly Failed
the People of the Americas
- Sir Ronald Sanders -
- Maximiliano Reyes
Undersecretary for Latin America
and the Caribbean
General Assembly of Organization of American States
On October 20-21, the 50th
General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) was held
virtually out of its Washington, DC headquarters. The theme of this
year's assembly was billed as "Facing the Challenges of COVID-19 in the
Hemisphere: A Collaborative Approach to Address Vulnerabilities and
Build Resilience in Times of Crisis, based on the Four Pillars of the
Participants in the meeting included the 33
members of the organization plus an illegitimately recognized
delegation claiming to represent the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
even though Venezuela officially withdrew from the organization in
2017. The Bahamas was elected to chair the plenary sessions over the
two days during which delegations from the 33 member states were given
an opportunity to make general remarks as well as debate and vote on a
number of resolutions and reports. Causes of an interventionist,
interfering nature that Canada has taken a lead in pushing at the OAS
in tandem with the U.S. in particular were sharply denounced, starting
with the first item on the agenda -- approval of the draft agenda.
Nicaragua firmly and categorically rejected inclusion on the
agenda of items dealing with "the situation in Nicaragua and with the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," in the form of resolutions its
representative denounced as interventionist in nature and contrary to
the Charters of the OAS and the United Nations, as well as
international law. The same stand was taken by St. Vincent and the
his remarks, the permanent representative of Nicaragua to the General
Assembly, Denis Moncada, said that no state or group of states has the
right to interfere in the internal or external affairs of any other
state or states. He pointed out that this applies not only to military
interventions but to any other type of intervention as well. Addressing
theme of the General Assembly, he dismissed as unacceptable claims that
the effects of the pandemic can be reduced through interference.
Strengthening the sanitary conditions for the benefit of all our
countries through sharing our experiences in combatting it should be
the preoccupation of this assembly instead of destabilizing, committing
aggression and violating the right to self-determination of Nicaragua
and Venezuela, he said. The agenda was nevertheless adopted as proposed.
The next fight took place over the report of the Credentials
Committee. Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and
Mexico opposed any recognition of the credentials of the delegation
that purports to represent the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which
were issued by the National Assembly and not the government of
Venezuela, rendering them invalid. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
pointed out that Venezuela officially withdrew from the OAS in June
2017 and is no longer a member. All were emphatic that the OAS Charter
does not authorize the organization or its General Secretariat to
recognize or deny recognition to any state, or allow interference in
any state's internal affairs. Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and
the Grenadines reiterated the positions of their governments that they
are not bound by any past, present or future resolutions or
declarations of the OAS that include any participation by the so-called
"Venezuelan" delegation or that speak on behalf of the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela. All three countries requested that their remarks
be recorded in the documents corresponding to the session.
Canada's Dirty Role
Canada's shameful role was on
display during the two days of plenary sessions. It sought to embroil
countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in violating the Charter
of the United Nations and what the OAS Charter itself calls for in
words, by sponsoring the resolutions interfering in the internal
affairs of Venezuela and Nicaragua -- specifically relating to upcoming
elections in both countries. A prelude to what Canada's role would be
during the official proceedings was provided in the form of a "Dialogue
on the Multi-dimensional Crisis in Venezuela" it co-hosted with the
U.S. and other members of its anti-Venezuela Lima Group the day before
the General Assembly opened. Minister of International Development
Karina Gould, who worked as a consultant for the OAS before becoming an
MP, was dispatched to advance Canada's assault on the democratic rights
of the peoples of the Americas at this forum.
the General Assembly proper, the job of flogging the resolutions
against Nicaragua and Venezuela that Canada took a lead in promoting
fell to Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe
Champagne and to Canada's permanent representative to the OAS, Hugh
Adsett. The whole thing was a pathetic spectacle of the Canadian
government's submission to the most reactionary, anti-communist
sections of U.S. imperialism obsessed with overthrowing the governments
of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, cloaked in pretentious language about
the need for the OAS to assert its "unwavering commitment to democracy
and human rights" and what Champagne said was a need to "restore
people's faith in our institutions."
on Nicaragua was titled "Restoring Democratic Institutions and Respect
for Human Rights in Nicaragua Through Free and Fair Elections." In
speaking to it Ambassador Moncada addressed himself specifically to
Canada. Canada has applied illegal sanctions against Nicaragua and for
a number of years has been working closely with the U.S. at the OAS,
heading up a Working Group on Nicaragua and then sitting on its
pompously named High Commission on Nicaragua, which is chaired by the
U.S. The Commission has called for the OAS to declare that there has
been an alteration in the constitutional order in
Nicaragua to be able to initiate a process that could lead to the
country's suspension from the OAS as was attempted but failed in the
case of Venezuela.
Among other things, Ambassador
Moncada said, "This assembly was not convoked for some to tell us what
we have to do." He said Nicaraguans highly value human rights, having
suffered under a dictatorship, and that Nicaragua is making a big
effort to guarantee the fundamental rights of its people and those who
transit through the country. He said he wanted his country's rejection
of the interfering position put forward by Canada's foreign minister
made clear, stating that it was not correct or appropriate to be
calling out countries for their internal policies and insisting on
interfering in their affairs. In closing, he said it was embarrassing
to see Canada following the dictate of the U.S. and acting like a
country subordinated to it.
In urging the passage
of a resolution on Venezuela titled "The Lack of Minimum Democratic
Conditions to Guarantee Free, Fair, and Transparent Elections in the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" Champagne made pointed references to
the "illegitimate" President Nicolás Maduro, and the
"illegitimate" elections that have been held in the country over the
years. He reiterated Canada's support for the "interim" and supposedly
legitimate president, Juan Guaidó, despite the imposter's
rapidly fading star.
In a related matter, it was
announced at the General Assembly that former Canadian Supreme Court
Justice Michel Bastarache was re-elected to the Administrative Tribunal
of the OAS, which is supposed to ensure oversight and accountability at
the OAS. Canada playing such a role is the height of hypocrisy, given
its historic role operating as a flunkey of the U.S. as it goes about
using the OAS to divide the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean
in order to assert its hegemony over the region. Canada's role in
organizing and leading the Lima Group to do illegal dirty work against
Venezuela and to try to split the Caribbean Community of States
(CARICOM) is the most obvious example. It was addressed well by
Argentina's foreign minister Felipe Solá, who said about the
OAS's interference in Venezuela that it served only to create divisions
in Our America based on opinions every country holds on Venezuela.
Where does this come from, who does it benefit? he asked.
aggressive interference in the affairs of Venezuela and also of
Nicaragua, and the role it played in instigating last year's coup in
Bolivia show that Canada's role with respect to oversight and
accountability can only be to insulate the out-of-control OAS General
Secretariat from being held accountable for its gross abuse of power
and serial violation of the OAS's own Charter and rules of procedure.
"Multilateralism That Actually Works"
the General Assembly concluded, the Assistant Secretary General
remarked that it had adopted important decisions for strengthening
multilateralism. Given that interfering in the affairs of Nicaragua and
Venezuela took up a large part of its agenda -- and dealing with
COVID-19 very little -- it is safe to say that what is being referred
to is the very imperialist multilateralism Canada champions and works
to impose, in opposition to what the UN Charter intended it to mean.
Canada's role as handmaid for this exclusionary, interfering
multilateralism has become a hallmark of the dirty role it plays at the
Canada is up to reflects what U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had to
say in a video-taped message to the General Assembly. He said the OAS
was an example of "multilateralism that actually works." Addressing
himself not to the member states of the OAS but to its nefarious OAS
Secretary General who views the organization as his personal
bailiwick, Pompeo said, "We stand for democratic values and
under your leadership the OAS is not afraid to stand up for these
values." In the written version of his statement Pompeo adds that
is no question" that the multilateralism of the OAS "works because of
your [Luis Almagro's] bold stands." He then goes on to issue
"expectations" of the members gathered, saying, "The U.S. expects this
approve a strong resolution condemning the illegitimate Maduro regime
this year, just as we expect all member states not to recognize its
illegitimate elections, past or future.... We expect the OAS General
Assembly to approve a resolution condemning the Ortega government's
failure to meet democratic standards," and "[We] urge the OAS to take
stronger action on Cuba. It's a source of anti-democratic forces
throughout the hemisphere as it props up the Maduro and Ortega regimes,
and causes regional instability."
There is nothing honourable about the role Canada is playing as a tool
of the imperialist multilateralism "that works" for the U.S. at the OAS
or in any other forum. Congratulations to those who actually spoke on a
principled basis for their people and for so many others to say NO to the
imposition of illegitimate agendas on the countries and peoples of
Latin America and the Caribbean in the name of high ideals.
should stop interfering in the affairs of Venezuela, Nicaragua,
Bolivia, Haiti and any other country where it
is violating the Charter of the United Nations, international law and
the norms of diplomacy -- something no amount of Liberal hypocrisy
about working for free and fair elections, human rights, democracy and
a "rules-based order" can hide.
who followed the 50th regular session of the General
Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), would be
forgiven for believing it was held to discuss Venezuela and
The assembly was held virtually on
October 20 and 21,
ostensibly to deal with "Facing the challenges of COVID-19" and
seeking a collaborative approach "to address vulnerabilities and
build resilience." That theme got scant attention. Reference to
it by some ideologically bent countries was cursory. The
representative of one powerful state did not even mention it.
The meeting concluded with no collaborative approach to deal
with vulnerabilities and resilience. The key issue now
confronting the developing member states of the Organization was
For the richer countries, their
principal concern was
Venezuela. Their overriding purpose was to secure positions that
bolster their efforts to get rid of the Maduro government and
force acceptance of Juan Guaidó.
used all their coercive power to achieve that objective,
at the expense of dealing with the most injurious crisis that is
devastating nations everywhere.
ambassador Anton Edmunds of Saint Lucia declared
that this "almost singular focus on one country within our
region, a country with issues we are well aware of, is starving
many of us of the support that we need at this critical time --
be it security-based or otherwise."
observation fell on deaf ears. So, too, did a
cry from the ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
Lou-Anne Gilchrist, that the organization "re-focus and become
more inclusive in its approach toward development."
who control the OAS appear to have little interest in
the issues of survival that confront developing states.
Increasingly, the Organization is becoming a weapon to advance
their political interests solely. In that regard, its relevance
to developing countries, which has always been questionable, is
now becoming increasingly more pertinent.
countries did manage to get through a resolution on
Climate Change. But it is significant that the excellent draft,
proposed by Barbados, was diluted at the insistence of a few
richer countries. One of them rejected it to the end, even though
it cannot be better known that Climate Change poses a grave
threat to all OAS members regardless of their size or economic
In my presentation, I urged that "the OAS
should be a unified
voice in advocating for strong and decisive action on climate
financing, not as a concession, or an act of generosity, but as a
moral, political, and environmental responsibility. OAS member
states should also be a unified voice for the renegotiating and
rescheduling of foreign debt, and for the affordable procurement
of vaccines for all when one is found to counter COVID-19."
the record, rather than because I expected any positive
response, I said: "Integration and collective action in the OAS
should not be an option, or a choice; it should be an imperative
for all -- rich and poor, large, and small."
the governance of the OAS is fatally flawed. Only power
prevails, not reason. And, the secretary-general, Luis Almagro,
who, in my view is capable of much better, has allowed himself to
become part of that flawed governance. Repeatedly, he has caused
the OAS to appear to be enflaming conflicts even ones, such as
between Azerbaijan and Armenia, that are far removed from the
Consequently, the Assembly had to
experience the indignity of
allowing representatives of Azerbaijan and Turkey to speak,
demanding that Almagro keep out of their regional affairs. He had
issued a statement, without the knowledge of any official body of
the Organization, accusing Azerbaijan of "aggression and
escalation" of a complex conflict with Armenia.
the event, the Mexican government, through the voice of
Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga, Undersecretary for
Latin America and
the Caribbean, minced no words when he called out this "worrying
He said: "We note the configuration of a
worrying pattern of
action of the general secretariat, consisting of using its
administrative powers to make political decisions that impact the
direction of the Organization, without previously submitting them
to the consideration of the membership.
decisions lack legal support and the necessary
information that allows knowing their motivation and objectives.
Such is the case with the appointment of a special advisor on the
responsibility to protect. This matter should have been consulted
and discussed exhaustively within the Organization." (Note: I
raised this issue in my last commentary and at the Assembly).
Many double standards exist in the governance and
decision-making of the OAS. These double standards, which serve
the political interests of a few, were especially obvious in
resolutions on Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Let it be
clear. Both Venezuela and Nicaragua pose concerns on
all sides, regarding free and fair elections, independence of the
judiciary and detention of persons. But effectively addressing
these concerns is undermined in the OAS by those who employ
tactics of bullying and exclusion.
were both drafted and settled by an exclusive
group. Yet, the resolution called on the government of Nicaragua
to support "inclusive and timely negotiations." The contradiction
of applying a standard to Nicaragua that they ignore for
themselves is either lost on them, or, self-righteously, they
The Venezuela resolution was drafted by
an exclusive group
which included the representative of Juan Guaidó. Not
surprisingly, it required all OAS governments to accept
agent as the representative of Venezuela, thereby pushing them
into implicit recognition of Guaidó, as the so-called
president of Venezuela, regardless of their own respective
national interests and policy.
employed language of belligerence likely to
widen divides, worsening the situation in Venezuela. This was
less about democracy in Venezuela and more about the imposition
of one political class and ruler over another, when the choice of
a leader of any country is a matter for that country's people
The 50th General Assembly of the OAS failed
to tackle the
important theme set by its 33 legitimate member states. Sadly, it
also failed the people of the Americas who continue to be plagued
by COVID-19 and are looking to governments to find a solution
Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United
States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior
Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of
London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto.
It is an honour for me to
participate in this 50th regular session of the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States on behalf of my country, as well as the
President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador
and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.
We meet in
unusual circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has represented
a great challenge for the world and, in particular, for our hemisphere.
That is why Mexico participates in this event to reaffirm its
multilateralist vocation. We consider that cooperation is an essential
pillar of peaceful coexistence among nations and of the search for
solutions to the common challenges that we face.
is no stranger to the fact that in the hemisphere there are
difficulties in political dialogue that have halted important advances
on numerous issues.
Faced with these events, the
Fourth Transformation of Mexico's public life, led by President
López Obrador, will always defend the principles of
non-intervention, self-determination of the peoples, the peaceful
solution of disputes, and respect, protection and promotion of human
For this reason, we reaffirm Mexico's
historical position against the unilateral economic and financial
sanctions implemented as a means of pressure. The greatest victims of
these are always those most in need, a reason that makes them
On the other hand, Mexico has
expressed, on different occasions, the desire that the peoples of
Nicaragua and Venezuela soon find a peaceful and democratic solution to
the situation in their countries, preserving at all times their
legitimate right to decide on their destiny. Mexico opposes any measure
that seeks to exclude a member state of our Organization from the
Mexico is also concerned about
the recent trend of going beyond the technical nature of Electoral
Observation Missions. We emphasize that the actions of the Electoral
Observation Missions must be impartial in nature, limited to logistical
and institutional support and that they are conducted under the
principles of rationality, transparency, austerity and accountability.
Democracy is also strengthened by eliminating corruption.
Mexico renews its commitment to combat this scourge by incorporating an
active citizenry to keep an eye on government actions.
terms of human rights, Mexico maintains its firm support for the rights
of Indigenous peoples, the LGBT population, and gender equality.
Likewise, Mexico reaffirms its full support for the
Inter-American Human Rights System and stresses the importance of
respecting its autonomy. My country will remain committed to
strengthening the work of the Commission and the Court.
terms of comprehensive development, we must continue working on
strengthening measures for comprehensive disaster risk management, in
order to face the threats of climate change.
in terms of cooperation, it is worth noting the indifference with which
the OAS has behaved in this pandemic.
We note with
concern the lack of concrete actions by the General Secretariat during
this health emergency.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My country reiterates that the OAS General Secretariat must
always act within its own institutional framework and avoid making any
pronouncement on behalf of the membership. It is the member states, and
not the General Secretariat, who decide the direction of the
In this sense, we note the
configuration of a worrying pattern of action on the part of the
General Secretariat, consisting of using its administrative powers to
make political decisions that impact the direction of the Organization,
without previously submitting them to the consideration of the
Such decisions lack legal support and
the necessary information that allows knowing their motivation and
objectives. Such is the case with the appointment of a special advisor
on the responsibility to protect. This subject should have been raised
for consultation and discussed exhaustively within the Organization.
Mexico views this appointment with great concern.
observe the same pattern regarding the refusal of the General
Secretariat to renew the mandate of the Executive Secretary of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. We firmly reiterate that
these actions undermine the autonomy and independence of the Commission.
Likewise, we corroborate this performance in the 2019 Bolivian
elections, where the General Secretariat used the Electoral Observation
Mission in a factious manner to denounce an alleged fraud without
previous verification. The elections last Sunday [October 18] in that
country showed the same electoral trend as in 2019.
factious use generated instability, violence and constitutional
disorder in Bolivia, and created an international environment of
confrontation. The General Secretariat is not there to qualify
elections or governments. Therefore, Mexico suggests that Mr. Luis
Almagro submit to a process of self-criticism based on his actions
against the OAS Charter and for damaging Bolivia's democracy, to
determine if he still has the necessary moral authority to lead this
My country denounces the Secretary
General's desire to intervene in the internal affairs of our States and
to hurt our democracies. What happened in Bolivia must never be
Yesterday marked a year since the
Bolivian elections in which Evo Morales was the winner. One year later,
the MAS was ratified and Luis Arce was elected President on a peaceful
and democratic election day, an example for the whole world, much to
the regret of you, Secretary General and your Electoral Observation
Mission. The Bolivian people have given you a historical lesson,
hopefully you will learn it.
As long as you
continue to lead the Organization, the repercussions of what happened
in Bolivia will always be present. You have delegitimized
the Electoral Observation Missions and led the organization to
clash with the current democratic reality in the region.
in adherence to its solid multilateralist tradition and its
constitutional foreign policy principles, will continue to promote
dialogue and diplomacy as the best way to seek common and consensual
solutions. This is what we have done at the head of CELAC, and deeply
appreciate the vote of confidence of all Latin American and Caribbean
countries to continue leading it next year.
reiterate the call of Mexico to privilege the unity of the peoples of
Thank you very much.
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