Colombia’s foreign minister Maria Holguin said on Tuesday she supports an American initiative to suspend Venezuela from the Organization of American States (OAS).
“We are going to have all the countries of the Lima Group in [the boycott]. We didn’t all want to present it at the same time, some were presenting it and others were accompanying it. We will accompany [the boycott],” Holguin said from Washington DC.
The Lima Group is a coalition of 13 Latin American countries and Canada that has been pushing for democratic reforms in Venezuela for years.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the suspension of Venezuela, which increasingly has become an authoritarian state, on Monday.
“Suspension…would show that OAS backs up its words with action and would send a powerful signal,” to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, said Pompeo.
“Only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations,” the US Secretary of State told the Venezuelan government.
According to OAS sources for El Tiempo, at least 18 member countries would vote to reject the legitimacy of the election held in Venezuela on May 20. In order to suspend Venezuela, 24 votes are needed to pass the resolution.
“We seek only what all the nations of the OAS want for our people: A return to the constitutional order, free and fair elections with international observation, and the release of political prisoners,” Pompeo told the 34-member general assembly in Washington.
Pompeo called for OAS members to apply sanctions to further isolate the Maduro regime.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, fired back against “aggression” from Pompeo and the assembly.
“The aggression against Venezuela is brutal, it’s economic, it’s financial, it’s commercial, it’s political, it’s media, and we are going to press on and we will triumph,” Arreaza said.
Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, also fired back saying he would declare the suspension a national holiday if passed.
“That day we’re going to have a national party, we’re going to have town party,” he said from Caracas.
Last year Maduro’s regime threatened to pull Venezuela out of the organization voluntarily, calling the OAS “a pawn of US foreign policy.”
Despite that Maduro released 39 political prisoners on Friday as a peace gesture, hundreds remain imprisoned on what the opposition calls trumped-up charges.