Pompeo: Oust Venezuela from Organization of American States ‘Until Free Elections Are Held’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the Organization of American States (OAS) 48th General Assembly in Washington, where crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela are likely to dominate
AFP Mandel Ngan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged members of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Monday to expel Venezuela, citing Nicolás Maduro’s rule by decree and countless human rights abuses.

“We request to suspend Venezuela until free elections are held. We call on the nations of the OAS to do this today,” Pompeo told an OAS assembly in Washington. “(It) would show that the OAS backs up its words with action and would send a powerful message to the Maduro regime.”

Venezuela’s regime responded angrily to the comments, accusing Pompeo of trying to instigate a coup d’etat against the regime.

“We are an independent nation. We are sovereign. We are free and no imperialist will be intervening in our country,” said foreign minister Jorge Arreaza. “We have moral authority. You don’t have moral authority of any kind to try to undermine our government.”

Last year, Maduro announced that Venezuela will withdraw from the OAS after claiming that the group was dominated by Washington’s interests. However, the formal process of leaving the OAS takes two years. Pompeo advocated removing the dictatorship from the international forum immediately, as the OAS requires all members to be functional democracies.

“I am proud to say as president of the republic … that I have taken the decision to retire our nation from the OAS, to liberate our country from interventionism, to liberate our country from so much illegality, so much abuse, we are free from the OAS and we will never return,” Maduro said at the time.

The organization has long taken a tough line against Venezuela, with its leader, Uruguayan politician Luis Almagro, repeatedly lobbying regional governments to take tougher stances in the form of sanctions against the regime.

Pompeo remained steadfast in advocating the U.S. government’s position of isolating the Maduro regime until democracy is returned, and has warned that Venezuela “faces isolation from the international community” until free elections are held. Venezuela held an election on May 20, widely derided as illegitimate given that Maduro banned opposition members from running, competing only against fellow leftists.

The State Department has already slapped a range of economic sanctions against Venezuela in response to the country’s political crisis, the majority of which target the country’s crucial oil sector as well as personal sanctions against individual politicians including Maduro and his close ally Diosdado Cabello.

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