Gonsalves says OAS head ‘overreached’ on Venezuela
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he will write to Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro who he says has allowed himself and the hemispheric grouping to be used as a “battering ram against” Venezuela.
“He has overplayed his hand and must stop it. I am not denouncing him and say that he is not a good and decent human being, but he has overreached and he has made errors and he must stop it,” Gonsalves told the convention of his Unity Labour Party on Sunday.
“There are some people who are calling for he himself to be recalled as the Secretary General of the OAS. I am not going there, at least, not on the 29th of May. But I am saying that he must be very measured in his approach and not be polemical and contentious. That is not his role as the secretary general of the OAS.”
Almagro has been openly critical of the Nicolas Maduro administration in Venezuela and has taken to Twitter to voice his views about the South American leader.
On Tuesday, two days after Gonsalves’ comments, Almagro called for an emergency meeting of regional governments to evaluate Venezuela’s respect for democracy.
Observers say the move could lead to the Venezuela’s suspension from the OAS.
But Gonsalves on Sunday signalled his nation’s continued solidarity with Venezuela, which is facing an economic and political crisis, which has led to mounting social unrest amidst efforts by the opposition to topple the Maduro government.
“SVG — our government and people, we are not fair weather friends. They are friends of the government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.
He told party supporters that there is a “conspiracy” in Venezuela in alliance with elements externally to undermine the country.
Gonsalves said the same set of forces carried out a “constitutional coup d’état” against Dilma Rousseff, Brazi’s suspended president.
He further said there are political challenges in Venezuela because people forget certain fundamental issues.
He said the presidency in the hands of the ruling party and the legislature in the hands of the opposition, adding that this is the same situation in the United States.
“And they have their battles and their wars, but it is not a fight to the death,” Gonsalves said, adding that controlling the legislature doesn’t mean you control the judiciary or the army — an arm of the executive that the president controls.
Gonsalves said he was also in solidarity with Cuba.
He said he was heartened by the move by Barrack Obama administration to open up relations with Cuba and has removed the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“I’m calling here again, as we have done repeatedly as a government, for the president to go further and use his executive authority to roll back many features of the embargo, the blockade against Cuba, even though we do recognise that the complete removal of the embargo will legislative require action in the congress. But we need to see further movements,” Gonsalves said.
He said one cannot on the one remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, say it is no longer seen as a security threat to the US, but have an executive order saying Venezuela is a security threat to the United States.
“How could Venezuela be a security threat to the United States of America? Small Venezuela, with 27 million people, with no significant armed forces, where you have the greatest power in the world, the United States, with 330 million people and the most powerful military the world has ever seen?
“You see, we need to keep these things in proportion. And I say all of that while reaffirming yet again, our friendship and solidarity with the government and people of the United States of America,” Gonsalves said.