Venezuela: ‘Withdrawal’ from OAS Adds to Dangers for Venezuelans
In response to the government of Venezuela’s announcement that it intends to withdraw from the Organization of American States (OAS), an unprecedented step among the organization’s members, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“If the government of President Nicolas Maduro is serious about withdrawing from the OAS, then it is no longer even pretending to accept democratic principles and serving the interests of the country’s citizens,” said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House. “OAS member states, as Venezuela’s neighbors, have the right and indeed the obligation to insist that the country respect the fundamental rights of its citizens, and choose rule of law over dictatorship. They should demand that the government release political prisoners and allow free and fair elections to return the country to democracy.”
The OAS has been promoting a regional engagement to restore democracy in Venezuela after the Maduro government continuously violated human rights, imprisoned critics and opposition figures, eliminated the separation of powers, illegally ruled by decree. Maduro maintains that the OAS is interfering in the country’s internal affairs, a claim rejected by the organization. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, who will receive Freedom House’s “Freedom Award,” will speak at Freedom House’s Annual Awards Dinner on April 27.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.