A neighborly rebuke to a wayward Venezuela

The country’s biggest neighbors in Latin America insist on talks between President Maduro and the opposition to end a political and humanitarian crisis. Neighbors like that are now more common in the world. 

AP Photo
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, right, with Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro, left, speaks to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States in Washington, March 27, 2017.

If there is the equivalent of a “neighborhood watch” on a global level, it is the various groupings of countries by region – the European Union being the most well known. These geographic neighbors not only watch out for each other, they also watch each other. A good example is what happened this week at a special meeting of the Organization of American States.

A majority of the OAS’s 34 active members, including heavyweights Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, called for talks to end a political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. That country’s drift toward dictatorship under President Nicolás Maduro has become a blight on Latin America’s self-image as a model for democratic values, which were restored in the region only a generation ago. “We cannot remain indifferent,” said Costa Rica’s representative, Rogelio Sotela.

In 2001, the OAS committed to a “democratic charter” that allows for pressure on a member state when its basic liberties or electoral mechanisms have been eroded. In 2009, the charter allowed the OAS to help stop a coup in Honduras. Now, in Venezuela, Mr. Maduro has steadily suppressed the political opposition, which holds a majority in the legislature. And he has blocked a proposed recall referendum on his rule.

In addition, his mismanagement of the economy has created high inflation and an acute hardship in basic goods – despite the fact that Venezuela holds the world’s largest proven oil reserves. According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, Venezuelans’ level of contentment has fallen faster in the rankings than any of the 126 countries studied.

Last year, an attempt by the Vatican to mediate between Maduro and his opponents failed. This latest statement by an OAS majority should help notch up the pressure. The next step could be to suspend Venezuela as a member, which would mean the further loss of international financing and investments. Such a vote would require two-thirds of the OAS, which includes the United States. In December, a subregional trading bloc called Mercosur suspended Venezuela for failing to meet basic standards on human rights.

Worldwide, neighborly pressure on wayward nations has a good track record of late.

In Africa, a regional grouping ousted a president in Gambia after he lost an election but refused to leave. And an Africa-wide court recently convicted a former dictator of Chad. In Myanmar (Burma), a democratic turnaround has been orchestrated in part by other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. And the EU has recently nudged both Poland and Hungary about their backsliding on democratic values. In contrast, the Middle East and Central Asia remain two parts of the world with little regional pressure for reform.

The much-maligned global order is not always global. Regional proximity has proved to be a glue that binds nations to common values as well as shared interests. Perhaps Venezuela’s regime will be unable to resist the call of its neighbors to shape up.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to A neighborly rebuke to a wayward Venezuela
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today