‘You want war?’ Venezuela spars with rivals at OAS meeting

By Anthony Esposito

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) – Governments from across the Americas chastised Venezuela’s socialist leadership on Tuesday for its handling of a political and economic crisis, prompting the OPEC nation’s foreign minister to call the critics “lapdogs of imperialism.”

The United States, Brazil and 10 other members of the 34-nation Organization of American States (OAS) issued a letter accusing Venezuela of undermining democracy, failing to feed its people and violating rights.

“Considering the interruption of the democratic process in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we believe that there should be a settled solution that includes all Venezuelan parties for the benefit of the people of that nation,” said the letter issued at the OAS general assembly in Cancun, Mexico.

It called for the release of political prisoners, respect for rights, an election timetable, a “humanitarian channel” to ship food and medicine, and the creation of a group or mechanism to help “effective dialogue among Venezuelans.”

The 12 nations also called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to abandon a July 30 vote for a super-body with powers to rewrite the country’s constitution. Critics see Maduro’s move as a ploy to hold on to power.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez fired back, criticizing Mexico’s rights record and highlighting poverty, violence and migration in Honduras and other nations.

Rodriguez said the country’s planned constituent assembly was the only way to overcome the current crisis peacefully and called her critics “lapdogs of imperialism.”

“Do you want war? Is that what you want for Venezuela?” the minister said, wearing a red dress, the color identified with Venezuela’s Socialist Party. She accused OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro of trying to stir up a civil war in Venezuela.

“Great, we’ve reached the boss,” she said as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan began a speech, repeating her jibe that the OAS is an arm of U.S. diplomacy.

Sullivan…

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