Geopolitics Venezuela Crisis

OAS Secretary General Offers Resignation Over Venezuela but Sets High Bar

Ambassador Curtis Ward

Ambassador Curtis Ward


OAS Secretary General Offers Resignation Over Venezuela but Sets High Bar

 Ambassador Curtis A. Ward

(24 June 2017) — In a dramatic “in your face” challenge to supporters of the Nicolás Madura government and the status quo in Venezuela, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro offered to resign, in response to calls for his resignation as a precondition for Venezuela’s return to the OAS. He said, however, that his resignation would be predicated upon significant changes in governance, restoration of democracy and rule of law, and the protection of human rights in Venezuela. Setting a significantly high bar, in a statement released today, Almagro said:

“ I will resign from the General Secretariat the day that free, fair and transparent national elections are held without impediments and with international observation; when all of the political prisoners named by Foro Penal Venezolano are freed; when all of those in exile are allowed to return home; when the full authority of the National Assembly is returned; when a humanitarian channel is established to help the most vulnerable Venezuelans; and when all those responsible for murdering the protesters, including those in the chain of command are brought to justice.”

Almagro said further that the preconditions for his resignation included establishment of “an independent Supreme

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro

Court; when there is an independent National Electoral Council; and when the unconstitutional National Constituent Assembly is halted.”  His bottom line is that he would “resign in exchange for freedom in Venezuela.”

If Almagro is to be taken at his word, it is now left to those countries that blocked the resolution in Cancun that would have approved a proactive OAS role in seeking resolution of the Venezuelan crisis.  Those who opposed the resolution argued it was an attempt by certain OAS member states to “interfere” in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Moreover, Almagro has set a politically unrealistic, unachievable high bar.

The question now arises: are those countries willing to take the lead, and are they capable of helping Venezuela achieve the objectives outlined by Almagro?  Unless, of course, they believe the people of Venezuela can settle their differences among themselves without an outright civil war.  One could stretch optimism to believe this was possible. But when one considers the prevailing conditions – lack of independent democratic governance and justice institutions and curtailment of free speech and peaceful assembly, then it is most improbable for a peaceful homegrown solution which protects the fundamental human rights of the people of Venezuela.

Then again, perhaps these countries may not themselves be able to meet some of the standards set by Almagro in their own countries and are incapable of contributing very little to help Venezuela. Is the ball really it their courts now?

Ambassador Curtis A. Ward

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About the author

Ambassador Curtis A. Ward

Ambassador Curtis A. Ward is a former Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations with Special Responsibility for Security Council Affairs (1999-2002) serving on the UN Security Council for two years. He served three years as Expert Adviser to the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee. He is an Attorney-at-Law and International Consultant with extensive knowledge and experience in national and international legal and policy frameworks for effective implementation of United Nations (UN) and other international anti-terrorism mandates; the legal and administrative requirements to effectively implement and enforce anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT); extensive knowledge of the legal and regulatory requirements for effective implementation and enforcement of United Nations multilateral and U.S.-imposed unilateral sanctions; and the imperatives for Rule of Law and governance. He is a geopolitical and international security analyst, and a human rights, democracy, and anticorruption advocate.


  • Excellent article. Maduro cannot continue to suppress Venezuelan people in the name of some fake anti imperialist cause. Rule of law, an independent judiciary and electoral commission must be assured in Venezuela, as in Dominica where those institutions of good governance are also under attack.

  • Whatever the benefits of ALBA, or the genuine solidarity shown the small Caribbean nations by Hugo Chavez during his tenure, we must never condone or give a pass to anti democratic conduct by any government.

    Venezuela needs independent institutions committed to transparency, accountability and rule of law. The masses of Venezuelan people cannot be denied there right to free and fair elections. They must have an impartial electoral commission just as John Alcendor called for in Dominica. In Dominica, a client state of Venezuela, we do not have an impartial electoral commission.

    Roosevelt Skerrit who leads Dominica is failing the people of Dominica by holding elections which are not free and fair and denying Opposition voices equal access to state media. Skerrit in his intolerance of dissent is following an anti democratic course just as Maduro is doing in Venezuela.

    It will not do for leaders to oppress their people, lead them down the path of a government hegemony which tramples their rights and economic management and then blame “imperialism.” It is true that the US government had opposed Chavez, but this current crisis has it roots in a regime which conducts itself in a manner which violate democratic norms. Neither the OAS or Caricom can hide behind the fig leaf of “sovereignty” to give a pass to misrule in Venezuela or the self inflicted wounds of looming civil war instigated by an increasingly intolerant government. We desire the same freedoms enjoyed in Caricom states, now under threat in Dominica, for our Venezuelan neighbors.

    We stand for rule of law in Venezuela and the rights of its people to free and fair elections.

    A good article. Thanks for writing it Ambassador Ward.

  • The impasse in Venezuela at this time requires an Independent Commission from both sides of the aisle be set up to identify a way forward that is HOME GROWN> Taking lessons from the experiences of Colombia and other countries, such an independent commission which would include stakeholders including unions, military, police, NGOs, Private Sector, Media would take time to deliberate some optional scenarios with attendant risks and rewards. This method has worked in other countries including South Africa and I believe with the right partners it could work here. The challenge would be to make sure Maduro sees a way out that allows him to save face. NO LEADER wants to go down in history as failed. Help him find a better way to WIN where more Venezuelans Win and we all win. The same could be said for Dominica situation.

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