Thursday, May 25, 2017

OAS Debates Venezuela, Not a Word About Brazil
(Left) Anti-government protesters attack police in Venezuela. (Right) Police fire rubber bullets and tear gas at anti-Temer protesters in Brasilia.

Published 24 May 2017

Double standards come naturally to the OAS, especially when the balance of power is defined by people's power or power usurped by political elites.

Pick-and-choose. It's the modus operandi of the Organization of American States, headquartered in Washington, D.C. While the organization schedules debate on Venezuela, total silence reigns over the scandal-ridden government of Brazilian President Michel Temer.

Just when Brazil's political crisis seemed like it couldn't get any worse, Temer was caught red-handed on tape giving his blessings to bribes paid to judges, prosecutors, a police task force member and a powerful witness in government corruption investigations, Eduardo Cunha, the former president of Brazil's lower house of representatives.

Not a whisper from the OAS.

On Wednesday, Brazil's security forces cracked down on protesters who were demanding free, democratic elections.

Not a beep from the OAS.

Also on Wednesday, Brazil's military police were ordered to remove rural workers located on the Santa Lucia farm in the municipality of Pau D'Arco in the state of Para. The operation resulted in the deaths of 10 campesinos.

The OAS utters not a word.

Ecuador managed to include in the daily agenda of the OAS a discussion about the ongoing and worsening crisis in Brazil. However, the majority of countries considered such disturbances to be a sovereign, internal matter, unbefitting of debate by the OAS Permanent Council.

"We repudiate misplaced interpretations of the functioning of our democratic institutions," argued Brazilian ambassador Jose Luiz Machado. Unable to hide his frustration at the mere suggestion of debating Brazil's crisis, Luiz Machado continued, “there's no alteration or risk to the constitutional order.”

Several other delegations, including Argentina, Mexico, and Paraguay, shared Luiz Machado's indignation.

Chile's representative, Juan Barria, stated that Brazil's crisis “is an absolutely internal issue.” Meanwhile, Argentina's representative, Juan Jose Arcuri, asserted that the “issue should not have been considered.”

Just an odd mistake? Or convenient?

Whatever the case, the OAS hasn't shied away from using its pulpit to convene a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the Venezuelan protests, with 19 votes in favor, 10 against, one abstention and one absence.

Hours after the vote, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced that the country will begin the process of exiting the OAS. She asserted that the organization had plans to criminalize the Venezuelan government and destabilize constitutional democracy in order to facilitate foreign intervention.

On April 27, Venezuela presented a formal letter pulling out of the OAS. At the time Rodriguez asserted, “We will defend the self-determination of our people.”

While Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for a constituent assembly and the country's electoral board has called for regional elections in December, Temer has taken no democratic measures to help quell the growing unrest in Brazil.

Having come to office through what many considered a parliamentary coup, Temer's claim to fame has been proposing undemocratic pension cuts, austerity measures, reforms that minimized workers' rights, and getting caught red-handed on tape approving bribes.

The latest Parana Institute Research poll indicates that 87 percent of Brazilians favor the immediate removal of Temer.

Double standards come naturally to the OAS, especially when the balance of power is defined by people's power or power usurped by a handful of political elites, right-wing media, and the big-business class. The U.S.-dominated organization seems to have no use for people's power.

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