One by one, Venezuela’s traditional Latin American friends are turning against Caracas. Cuba played host to President Obama and Argentina’s new center right president, Mauricio Macri, was quick to signal a different attitude from his predecessor. Now, Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States, is seeking a vote on whether to suspend Venezuela from the hemispheric body. The Guardian reports:
Luis Almagro said Venezuela had suffered “grave alterations of democratic order” and called for a vote on the matter in the coming weeks.
The socialist country could be suspended from the organization if two-thirds of its 34 member states vote that the country’s leadership has gravely undermined democracy there.
Almagro has been feuding with the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, whose government immediately denounced the new measure.
The communications minister, Luis José Marcano, lambasted Almagro on state television, calling him a puppet.
“Venezuela is under attack by economic powers because we have the world’s largest oil reserves,” he said.
Such neoliberalism bashing rings increasingly hollow these days, especially when oil prices in Venezuela itself are skyrocketing while consumers pretty much everywhere else enjoy an energy glut. But the ridiculousness of Marcano’s protesting aside, Maduro’s government is facing significant regional (and domestic) headwinds.
The big question is what kind of a role Brazil might play in Venezuela’s crisis. When Maduro ran for office in 2013, both he and his opponent pointed to Brazil as a model for Venezuela. That led some analysts to joke that “Brazil also votes in Venezuela” (which is of course more than many of Venezuela’s citizens can say for themselves). Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was friends with Hugo Chávez and his successor, Dilma Rousseff, has close ties to Maduro. But Rousseff is on her way out, and it’s not clear how the government which replaces her will handle Caracas.
Over the next few months, Brazil may be too distracted by its own problems to do much about Venezuela’s crisis. But if serious civil conflict breaks out in Venezuela, Brazil will feel pressure to do something about what’s happening across the border.