Analysis Almagro, Venezuela and multilateral order


Beatriz Becerra is Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Parliament and MEP of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). She has just published Eres liberal y no lo sabes (Deusto)

The never-ending web of treaties, agreements and international organizations that shapes modern international politics has contributed to stability, reduced violence and increased prosperity around the world since the last world war. Yet global institutions face legitimate criticism for their inability to stop dictatorial drifts and even crimes against humanity. The UN takes the lion's share of these criticisms.

Uruguayan Luis Almagro, who presides the Organization of American States since 2015, knows this weakness and has been able to avoid it in the face of the extremely serious situation in Venezuela. Almagro's voice has been clearly heard throughout the continent as that of a democratic leader aware of his role. As a left wing man, Almagro's discourse on the Venezuelan tragedy acquires a very high political value that dignifies the OAS and reinforces the role of international institutions. And it is not only the speech: Almagro has promoted initiatives such as the report that should serve as a basis for investigating Nicolás Maduro and other leaders of the Chavista regime for crimes against humanity. Five Latin American countries that signed the Rome Statute - to which Canada has joined - have just announced that they will formally request the International Criminal Court to initiate proceedings. I am confident that the countries of the European Union, and especially Spain, will soon follow the lead.

Recently, Almagro recalled that there is the possibility of intervening in Venezuela in accordance with international law and the responsibility to protect recognized by the UN for all of its member countries. Those who prefer to ignore the liquidation of the rule of law, the brutal repression, the terrible shortage and the exodus of Venezuelans, which has already become the main problem in the region, immediately took their hands to their heads. The former president Zapatero came out in defense of the regime, as he traditionally does, and Almagro advised him not to be an imbecile, which has prompted a sad clash with the Spanish government.

Maduro's regime has claimed that they will denounce Almagro to the UN, which held its General Assembly this week, for "promoting a military intervention". It would be dramatic to give credibility to the denunciation of a dictatorship. The weakness of the UN is its difficulty in defending liberal democracy when it involves confronting leftist tyrannies, and the OAS is the one offering the positive side of multilateral order in the Venezuelan issue. If the very institutional design of the United Nations makes it impossible to act more decisively, at least we must trust that those who are capable of acting will not be hindered.

The issue is especially delicate at a time when multilateralism is being harshly challenged by national-populism. Leaders like Donald Trump take advantage of the UN's weakness to push its isolationist and protectionist agenda. Those of us who believe in an international order based on shared legal frameworks and institutions can only trust that Almagro will receive the support he deserves while effective and urgent measures are promoted to prevent the Maduro regime from continuing to claim victims, devastating Venezuela and destabilizing South America.

Translation by David Outeda

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