Panama , Colombia , Nicaragua , Venezuela , Cuba , Chile , Argentina , Brazil and Peru

Latin America's political divide mutes region over Venezuela issue


Latin America is so deeply divided in its stance toward Venezuela and the country's ongoing crisis that, up to this point, talks held regarding the issue have reached no conclusions. Instead, they have led to regional stalemate and antagonism.

The Panamanian government called for the Organization of American States (OAS) to bring all the region's foreign ministers together on Thursday (Mar 6) to find a solution to the violence generated by the anti-government protests which have rocked Venezuela since February 12, leaving around 20 dead and hundreds wounded and arrested.

However, due to the influence of Venezuela's vocal allies in Latin America - particularly Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Argentina - and the silence of many other countries on the matter, the OAS was unable to muster sufficient participation from Latin America's governments.

The organization is now scheduled to discuss a joint resolution calling for dialog in Venezuela, however the viability of a declaration of this kind remains doubtful, as does the probability of definitive action, as Venezuela remains highly opposed to any influence from the OAS, with President Nicolás Maduro claiming its motives are "interventionist."

Human Rights Watch's director for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco, has previously criticized what he called the region's "silence" in the face of the crisis and the violations of human rights occurring in Venezuela, including press censorship, the intimidation and arrest of journalists, the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo López and reports of brutality against those detained.

Vivanco has particularly lamented Brazil's reluctance to speak out, while praising Chile's Sebastián Piñera and Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos for issuing statements deploring the political violence in the country.


In response to Panama's request for further OAS action on the crisis, Maduro announced that Venezuela had decided to break diplomatic and political ties with Panama. During the commemoration of the anniversary of Hugo Chávez's death, he accused Panama of attempting to organize foreign intervention in its internal affairs.

In a clear effort to intimidate his other neighbors, Maduro also warned the OAS not to interfere further, saying at the same ceremony that he will react with "force" against any country that does so.

At the same time, the rest of Latin America appears to prefer silence regarding Venezuela's decision on Panama, with a notable lack of public criticism or questioning of the move.

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