The government of the Dominican Republic dealt a harsh blow to the Maduro regime at the most recent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) by ending its support for Venezuela; this, after more than six years of unconditional support for Chavez and his predecessor.
During the vote that took place this Tuesday, June 5 at the OAS General Assembly, the Dominican Republic decided to part ways with the Venezuelan dictatorship, and for the first time voted in favor of the resolution proposed by the United States.
Jorge Arreaza, Venezuelan Foreign Minister, did not expect the Dominican Republic to completely change its position. In fact, during his speeches in the, the official stated: “Ask the Dominican Republic, which is here, about whether President Maduro has made great efforts to foster dialogue.”
At that moment, the Dominican representative decided to remain silent, but his position was felt when he put aside diplomatic indifference, and decided to side with the democratic nations.
The government of Danilo Medina was guarantor and mediator in the fruitless dialogue between Chavez and the opposition. Only a few months ago, the Dominican Republic maintained the official position that the solution to the crisis in Venezuela was a matter of elections.
Mariano De Alba, a specialist in international law, told the PanAm Post that the change of position in the Dominican Republic suggests that after the dialogue, Danilo Medina witnessed that “the Maduro government has no real will to seek solutions to the crisis and what he did was make them waste their time.”
“The Dominican Republic, thanks to the pressure of the United States, decided to support the resolution that is quite sharply critical of Venezuela, and states that in Venezuela there is a serious break with the constitutional order,” she said.
On the importance of the resolution passed, De Alba said it is important because it fundamentally calls on the countries to take measures to try to restore democracy in Venezuela.
“The measure should be understood as a way of opening the door for countries in Latin America, such as Chile and Argentina, to adopt sanctions to increase pressure. The practice in Latin America had always been that these countries did not adopt sanctions without a decision of a multilateral organization, and that decision was finalized yesterday with the resolution of the OAS,” she added.
She also said that the resolution demonstrates the attention and concern about Venezuela and the willingness of the international community to seek concrete solutions to the crisis.
The resolution passed, and was promoted by the United States and the 14 countries of the Lima Group, a block that accounts for more than 90% of the population in the Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia.
This group was joined by the Dominican Republic (a traditional ally of Venezuela), as well as the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Barbados, three Caribbean countries that had already voted in favor of pronouncements against the Venezuelan regime in the OAS.
Meanwhile, eleven other countries abstained: Suriname, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Uruguay, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, and Nicaragua.
Haiti, Ecuador, and Nicaragua have maintained a close relationship with the Nicolás Maduro regime, but since February have decided not to support Venezuela any more and have opted to abstain.
Ecuador’s position is curious, since before the General Assembly began it became known that the United States government had spoken with Lenin Moreno in an effort to push for official diplomatic rejection of Venezuela’s disputed elections, and the legitimacy of Maduro as president.
Nicaragua faces a similar situation: after having supported Chávez and Maduro for years, and even “sharing” methods of electoral fraud, the government of Daniel Ortega has decided to abstain with regard to Venezuela-related matters.
Venezuela has already said that it is leaving the OAS and last year announced that the withdrawal process would begin. But according to the OAS statute, it requires two years for a nation to leave the organization, and officials could change their minds.
Maduro is increasingly isolated
Before the vote in the OAS, only four countries announced their opposition to the measure: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Dominica.
Everything indicates that with the passage of time and as international pressure increases, governments will continue to part ways with the Venezuelan dictatorship. So far, only three nations in the region are seeking to legitimize Maduro.
De Alba noted that the vote “was indeed interesting”, because many countries that previously supported Maduro or abstained now voted against Venezuela, like the Dominican Republic.
“Maduro’s isolation confirms that the government’s ability to solve people’s problems is practically nil, and that he is also very isolated from business partners. If he does not look for a solution, a scenario will unfold of greater deterioration to the economic situation and greater destruction. Thanks to this isolation, Maduro does not have the tools to face the serious situation that the country is experiencing,” she concluded.
The United States was “the key”
The diplomatic and political efforts of the United States to pressure the Maduro dictatorship have yielded great results, and this was demonstrated in the OAS General Assembly.
The Trump administration has been emphatic in emphasizing the importance of the exclusion of Maduro from the body, even though Venezuela is complying with the procedure to withdraw voluntarily.
The vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, took strong aim at the dictatorship and also took note of the countries that did not join the United States in the vote.
Such was the influence of US diplomacy that a call from the United States helped prod Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno to abstain from supporting the dictatorship in Venezuela.
Furthermore, Pence flexed diplomatic muscle to encourage Haiti to abstain; one day before the vote the Caribbean country was excluded from a White House dinner, allegedly for their continuous support for the Venezuelan dictatorship .
“I’ll make you a promise,” said Pence. “Stand with us and I know we will stand with you. Work with us and we will work with you,” was the warning that the United States issued hours before the voting took place.
Trump has made it clear that the fall of Maduro is a top priority, especially as much of its political and military leadership is heavily involved with drug trafficking and terrorism.
The United States was the first country to apply sanctions against the dictatorship in Venezuela. Trump began punishing corrupt Chavista officials and human rights violators, and now pledges to continue with economic actions that reduce the political and economic power of the regime.
With his arrival to the White House, Trump has intensified the pressure to the Venezuelan government with continuous rounds of individual financial sanctions.
It remains to be seen what new actions the United States will take with regard to Venezuela. For now, what is known is that Trump has made it clear that his goal is for Maduro to leave the presidency.