Washington, May 7 (EFE).- The United States on Monday urged the Organization of American States to suspend Venezuela from its ranks and impose new sanctions on alleged drug traffickers linked with the Nicolas Maduro government in Caracas.
“We call on the members of this institution to uphold our long-standing commitment to democracy and freedom … (and) to suspend Venezuela from the Organization of American States,” said Vice President Mike Pence in an address before the international body’s Permanent Council, the members of which were gathered in a protocolary meeting.
The Venezuelan government on April 28 requested to leave the OAS amid complaints within international body over its ongoing political and social crisis, but its departure will not become effective for two years.
Despite the political weight carried by the US call to suspend Venezuela, for the moment there is not enough support within the organization to take that step.
Doing so requires the support of two-thirds of the 35 OAS members, or 24 states, a figure that all sources consulted by EFE say cannot be mustered at present thanks to the firm support for Maduro by a bloc of Caribbean nations who have benefitted for years from the subsidized petroleum and other aid that Venezuela provides to them.
On Monday, the Venezuelan delegation walked out of the solemn session held to welcome Pence to the OAS.
Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister for North America Samuel Moncada said that his delegation was not present because they consider the gathering to be a “farce” and a “monstrosity” and complained that there was no opportunity afforded to reply to Pence’s comments.
“The coercive measures of the United States are an international crime that we will denounce,” Moncada told reporters after the session.
Pence also echoed the announcement of new measures against former Venezuelan officials made on Monday by the US Treasury Department, which included on its “black list” of drug traffickers Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, a former top official with Venezuela’s Sebin intelligence service, and Hugo Carvajal, a close confidant of the late President Hugo Chavez, and announced sanctions against Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez and Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza for providing financial and technological help to Martin Olivares in his alleged drug trafficking activities.
In his 27-minute speech, Pence called upon the countries of the hemisphere to prevent Venezuelan authorities from “laundering money through your financial systems … to enact visa restrictions that prevent Venezuela’s leaders from entering your nations … (and) to hold Maduro accountable for destroying Venezuela’s democracy.”
He also urged Maduro to suspend the upcoming “sham election. Hold real elections. Give the people of Venezuela real choices because (they) deserve to live in democracy once again.”
Pence is the first US vice president to address the OAS since Democrat Al Gore did so in 1994.