The diplomatic body comprised of nearly all the countries in the America failed to agree on a resolution condemning the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at a summit on Monday, prompting the meeting’s host, Mexico, to say that it was failing to act while anti-government protesters were dying in the streets.
Twenty countries of the Organization of American States backed a resolution condemning Mr Maduro’s unpopular plans to convene a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution on July 30 – falling short of the two-thirds majority needed. A rival proposal, backed by Caribbean countries, also failed to pass after hours of talks and bickering over procedural matters at the body’s general assembly in the Caribbean resort of Cancún.
“While we are here unable to agree, in the streets of Caracas and many other places, violence is continuing,” Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s foreign minister, told his fellow ministers after the 34 nations voted. Venezuela is the OAS’ 35th member but it announced in April that it will pull out of the hemispheric bloc.
“Today, again, there has been repression. Today, again, there have been deaths,” Mr Videgaray said, saying Venezuela was on “an extremely serious and worrying path”.
Venezuela’s own foreign minister, Delcy Rodríguez, addressed the meeting earlier but said that whatever was voted on would not be recognised by Caracas, and got up and left.
Mexico, which for years has studiously followed a doctrine of non-intervention in international affairs, has become increasingly outspoken on Venezuela as the country’s crisis has deepened, with more than 70 deaths in street clashes between protesters and security forces since the end of March.
Mr Videgaray said Venezuela’s democratic order was broken and the country’s polarisation was increasing. “A lot of blood can still be shed,” echoed Heraldo Muñoz, Chile’s foreign minister.
Costa Rica’s foreign minister, Manuel González Sanz, said the OAS had split into two camps and “we will be reproached” for failure to reach agreement.
The OAS meeting continues until Wednesday night and Mexico, as well as several other countries, have called for dialogue to continue. However, the foreign ministers did not agree on a new date for talks on Venezuela to continue and it was not immediately clear whether a joint agreement could be forged in Cancún.
Mr Maduro has 20.8 per cent support in an opinion poll by Datanálisis in June. The same survey found 66.9 per cent rejected the planned constituent assembly and only 23.2 per cent backed it.
“The crisis is real,” Honduras’ foreign minister María Dolores Agüero told the meeting. “It cannot be that under the doctrine of non-intervention the alternative is to do nothing.”
Venezuela’s crisis has resonated well beyond the region. German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern about the situation on a visit to Mexico earlier this month.