Updated 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Venezuela Opposition "Are NOT Traitors": Almagro

I have followed with concern the accusations by sectors of the government of Venezuela that label as “traitors to the country” a group of legislators elected by the people of that country for recently visiting me and telling me about the situation in the country and recalling the commitments that govern all of us in the Hemisphere, in terms of the defense of democracy and respect for human rights.

The instruments of the Inter-American system that seek to defend democratic systems have been agreed upon by all our governments. They are not intended for the protection of governments, but for the good of the citizens of our Hemisphere. They are the final participants and the primary focus of our obligations.
The OAS Charter says, in its Preamble, that “the true significance of American solidarity and good neighborliness can only mean the consolidation on this continent, within the framework of democratic institutions, of a system of individual liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.”

For its part, the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IDC) begins by recalling that “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”

Hence, no one who acts toward that end can be a traitor to their country.

My duty as Secretary General is to ensure compliance with Inter-American rules that our countries have agreed to and that bind us all.

The IDC therefore, is not an instrument imposed on countries, nor is its objective to punish. The possible sanctions are the last of its recourses.

The IDC was unanimously approved in 2001 by all the governments of the Americas as a set of provisions that reinforce the solidarity of the Americas for the strengthening of its institutions in the recognition of the “participatory nature of democracy,” as is affirmed in its Preamble.

Time and time again, the text of this Charter reiterates that the actions that can be carried out by the OAS have as their goal offering assistance “for the strengthening and preservation of democratic institutions,” “the preservation of its democratic system,” and “to foster the restoration of democracy.”

Someone who asks for help, good offices or diplomatic actions therefore cannot be considered a traitor.

Those who reaffirmed these rights for our peoples in 2001 were not traitors, nor were those who committed themselves on behalf of their countries to care for these rights. Nor have the people who have appealed for the help of the OAS in the years since the Charter was signed betrayed their countries.

It is enough to remember the role played by the OAS General Secretariat in 2002, at the request of President Hugo Chávez Frías and in compliance with the IDC.

That is why, whoever wants more rights, more liberty, more democracy for their people, and appeals for the aid of the Inter-American instruments that have their distant roots in Panama in 1826, should be considered a patriot and a defender of democracy, beyond considerations of to which political party they belong.

By Luis Almagro
Secretary General
Organization of American States