Venezuela Is In Crisis. Where’s The International Community?
by Gérard Latulippe*
The principle of non-intervention in the sovereignty of a country is inserted in the Charter of the United Nations. This rule of international law is not absolute because sovereignty also implies the obligation to protect its citizens. When a population suffers major harm as a result of repression by its government, and the latter refuses or neglects to redress the situation, it is the responsibility of the international community to act in its place. This rule of law is called the responsibility to protect. It derives from international declarations, commitments and treaties on human rights as well as international humanitarian law.
The conditions for applying this norm of international law exist in Venezuela, but the international community does not fully assume its responsibility to protect the Venezuelan people.
A country destroyed by its own government
Venezuela is a bankrupt country. Its leaders, at the executive level, are corrupt predators of human rights, corrupted related to illicit activities such as drug and weapons trafficking and money laundering. They have squandered the resources of the state and destroyed the economy. The inflation rate is going to reach 1,600 per cent in 2017. It is the worst in the world.
Half of the Venezuelian children are unable to feed themselves three times a day and 80 per cent of households live in poverty. The food supply has even become a weapon of the dictatorship against the people. In April, the Maduro regime threatened the inhabitants of Las Minas de Baruta to cut off their food supplies if they demonstrated. A state that declares war on its people!
The shortage of medicines is such that infant mortality has increased by 36 per cent and that of pregnant women by 65 per cent. Hospitals are devastated. Diabetics, cancer patients and AIDS patients are condemned to death.
In short, it is a colossal humanitarian crisis. The government refuses humanitarian.To intentionally subjugate the civilian population to a state of extreme poverty and suffering is a serious crime against humanity.
The cruel violence of the ruling regime
The ruling regime deliberately and systematically exert violence against its citizens as they exercise their fundamental rights to protest against their inhuman living conditions, demand free elections and request the return of the rule of law. This repression is carried out by the National Guard but also by the “colectivos.” These are armed militias of more than 100,000 individuals paid by the government with no legal status. They are professionals of the repression of which several are Cuban or Iranian according to Forbes.
Recently more than 2,000 demonstrators have been arrested, often beaten and brought before military tribunals. The riot squads fire tear gas and plasticized bullets both in front of and behind the demonstrators. They are thus slyly trapped. Many cases of torture and at least 50 murders have been reported by local NGOs. Many opponents of the regime are condemned to prison by kangaroo courts.
Maduro consolidates its dictatorship
Maduro’s torture regime has taken extreme measures to annihilate the legislature with the sole aim of undermining the foundations of representative democracy and consolidating its autocratic power.
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) described as a coup d’etat the measures taken by the government to consolidate the dictatorship of Maduro using legal artifices and ridiculous pretexts.
The presidential decree of May 1 to rewrite the constitution of the country would entail the replacement of parliamentarians democratically elected by a Cuban type of assembly controlled by the regime.
The measures taken by the Maduro regime to destroy democratic institutions have multiplied in recent years. For example, the regional elections to be held in 2016 were not heldhttp://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-idUSKCN12I2QN. The government refused to honour the presidential recall procedure initiated by the opposition when 1.8 million signatures had been obtained in a few days, nine times more than required by law. The Supreme Court of the country systematically annulled all the laws voted by the parliament.
The bad faith of the Bolivarian ruling regime
For months, many countries have encouraged dialogue to emerge from the crisis. The recent statement by the Foreign Ministers of the CARICOM countries at their recent meeting in Barbados is a good example. In 2016-17 mediation efforts were made by the Dominican Republic, Panama and Spain with the support of the United States and the Vatican. They have failed. For Venezuela, these calls for dialogue and the mediation become a tactic to gain time in order to consolidate the regime’s power and repress the opposition. The OAS even acknowledged this in a recent report.
On April 26, a majority of the OAS member states requested a special meeting to discuss the Venezuelan crisis. The Government of Venezuela then withdrew from the OAS. The decision of the Venezuelan government is an obvious gesture of bad faith and demonstrates its firm intention to continue the violent dictatorship of Maduro.
A humanitarian military intervention to protect the people
We have reached the stage where the international community must fully assume its responsibility to protect the people of Venezuela in accordance with international law. It should be a humanitarian military intervention aimed essentially at ending violence and repression against the population and providing them with the necessary protection for the systematic violation of their human rights. This is the most insightful option to avoid large-scale massacres or the specter of a civil war that would debase the entire international system and our common humanity.
This military operation could be conducted by a coalition of willing states of the OAS. Its objective would be to support diplomatic efforts, ensure the implementation of non-military measures such as sanctions, provide humanitarian assistance to the population and to facilitate the creation of a climate conducive to the restoration of democratic order.
The OAS or member countries should therefore refer the matter to the UN Security Council to discuss and take the necessary measures to implement this humanitarian military intervention.
*Canadian diplomat and former politician.