Pastrana Calls for OAS Sanctions against Venezuela

EspañolOn Wednesday, former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002) called on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to take precautionary measures for the protection of opposition politicians in Venezuela, several of whom have been threatened and imprisoned by the government.

Pastrana, addressing press outside the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington, said that the alleged abuses of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro required the urgent attention of the OAS agency. In particular, he said that the rights of Leopoldo López, María Corina Machado, Daniel Ceballos, Julio Borges, Henrique Capriles, and Antonio Ledezma needed protection.

“What are they accusing [Caracas] Mayor Ledezma of? No one knows … I’m here to defend the right to life,” Pastrana said, in reference to the elected official who was detained in a violent armed raid in February.

The former Colombian premier signaled that Venezuela’s membership of the Organization of American States (OAS) triggered its liability over human-rights abuses. “I myself signed the democratic charter with former President Chávez, so what we’re asking is that Venezuela is either expelled from the organization or submits to the rules of the OAS,” he told reporters.

Nearby, a small group of Venezuelans lent vocal support to the former Colombian leader’s announcements. Several held placards calling for the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Venezuela, which could lead to sanctions or even its expulsion from the OAS.

In the days leading up to Pastrana’s request, the Conservative Party in Colombia (to which Pastrana belongs) advanced a similar request for the IACH to take steps to protect Ledezma and other opposition figures. The Colombian politician, facing accusations of acting in the name of the Venezuelan opposition, asserted that the measures requested referred only to individuals and were non-partisan.

The IACH has the capacity to request that a member-state cease harming or threatening citizens.

Following a visit to Venezuela in January, Pastrana denounced the economic and political crisis facing the neighboring South American country, and the alleged abuses perpetrated by the Maduro administration. His words prompted a vocal response from the Venezuelan authorities, which even accused the former Colombian head of state of participating in an attempted coup d’etat.

Sources: El Impulso, Voz de América.

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