Social media platforms help South American leaders oppose forced regime changes

By Earl Bousquet
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 21, 2017
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South American leaders are increasingly taking to social media platforms to openly vent their displeasure about continuing historical efforts to use one of the world's oldest regional organizations to punish states that refuse to play by Washington's rules.

The Organization of American States (OAS) is under serious pressure from within, as leaders and diplomats tweet to condemn powerful member-states trying to use the body's outdated statutes to pursue regime change in Venezuela, a founding member-state.

It is another chilling moment of sobriety for an entity that unites the U.S., Canada and all South American and Caribbean states in a political alliance driven by Washington's decades-old policy of treating the entire region as "America's Backyard."

Established in Colombia on April 30, 1948, by the U.S. and 20 Latin American nations, the OAS was admittedly conceived "to serve as a bulwark against communist penetration of the Western Hemisphere."

Following its 1959 Revolution, Cuba became a regular victim of American gunboat diplomacy, especially through the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Missile Crisis with the Soviet Union.

For three years following the revolution, Washington used the OAS to voice and channel its distaste of Cuban developments, leading to Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Raul Roa Garcia describing the organization as "The Ministry of Yankee Colonies."

After Washington broke ties with Havana, but failing to get reluctant South American leaders to support efforts to mount military incursions against Cuba, the island was expelled from the OAS at a meeting in Uruguay in January 1962. However, Cuban president at the time, Osvaldo Dorticós, assured the continent that "We (Cuba) might not be in the OAS, but Socialist Cuba will be in America."

Cuba has remained outside the OAS for the past 45 years. However, the ideological underpinnings that led to the Washington-based entity's creation and its permanent political pursuit of regime change in Havana have never been hidden or overcome. Instead, hostilities against nations like Cuba are quite often resurrected, as in the latest of ongoing moves against the Bolivarian Socialist Republic of Venezuela.

On April 3, 2017, the OAS Permanent Council was again mobilized for another failed attempt to try to force through a resolution that would have activated the organization's outmoded Democratic Charter to expel Venezuela, attracting support from only 14 of the 34 member-states.

Immediately after, Bolivia's President Evo Morales, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Antigua and Barbuda's Ambassador to the OAS Sir Ronald Saunders, all took to their Twitter accounts and other social media outlets to accuse members of breaking the own rules in pursuit of regime change in Caracas.

The Ecuadorean stance was brought into focus by the country's April 2 election to replace the outgoing Correa. The losing candidate, right wing ex-banker and Finance Minister Guillermo Lasso, demanded a recount -- after which the National Electoral Council (CNE) confirmed that Lasso had indeed lost another 100 votes, while the winner, Correa's ally Lenin Moreno, won 143 more. But, still refusing to accept the opposition's generated street protests have been continued.

Correa on April 14 said the opposition's move to continue the street protests was "a copy of the strategy of the Venezuelan right wing: to question the results, de-legitimize the origin of the mandate, keep the streets 'hot' and claim there is a 'divided' country, to make it ungovernable."

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro is also using social media in his ongoing personal and public campaign against Venezuela, recently posting a video message painting the violent opposition protesters in Caracas as peaceful demonstrators - and supporting opposition demands for an early presidential and general election.

Yet, despite those backing the Venezuelan opposition claiming to do so in the interest of the Venezuelan people, successive independent polls show the latter don't favor regime change, especially imposed from outside.

In early April, the Venezuelan firm Hinterlaces conducted a poll that showed only 6 percent approved foreign intervention to remove President Nikolas Maduro (in power since 2013) from power, while 87 percent disapproved of any external military intervention; 90 percent rejected violent right-wing protests, while 83 percent favored of dialogue -- and 67 percent said the priority of any dialogue should be to resolve the country's economic problems.

However, the peoples' views hardly ever matter when powerful countries get upset about their government's progressive policies.

The OAS was established in the immediate post-1945 Cold War period to pave the way for Western political, economic and military advances in the region and to subordinate the continent's governments to the dictates of American foreign policy.

From time to time the balance of forces in OAS membership will delay or defeat instances of intended political and/or military action against socialist and progressive governments.

However, there will always be times, like now, when member-states plotting and pursuing regime change against fellow member-states will take actions that justify the claim of the OAS forming the "U.S. Ministry of Colonies."

This is a very far cry from China's relationship with its South American and Caribbean allies within the same OAS bloc. In the last two decades alone, China has increased its investments in Latin America 10-fold and its bilateral ties are growing only stronger, both politically and economically. Beijing has always respected the expressed will of the South American peoples and has never been accused of seeking to influence the political direction of independent nations across the region.

Earl Bousquet is a contributor to, editor-at-large of The Diplomatic Courier and author of an online regional newspaper column entitled Chronicles of a Chronic Caribbean Chronicler.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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