Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela's Maduro lambasts OAS chief Almagro

President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a rally with pro-government members of the public transport sector in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nicolas Maduro told OAS head Luis Almagro to "shove the Democratic Charter where it fits"

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has used colourful language to lambast the head of regional body Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro.

His remarks came after Mr Almagro called an emergency meeting over Venezuela's "institutional crisis", a move which could lead to Venezuela's expulsion from the OAS.

Mr Maduro dismissed it as "meddling".

The Venezuelan leader also called for "a big anti-imperialist and anti-Almagro march" to be held on Wednesday.

'Venezuela at risk'

On Tuesday, Mr Almagro published a 132-page document (in Spanish) requesting a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Almagro has in the past said Mr Maduro is at risk of turning into a "petty dictator"

He argued that "the institutional crisis in Venezuela demands immediate changes in the actions of the executive branch".

He also said Venezuela was "at risk of falling immediately into a situation of illegitimacy".

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At the emergency meeting, member states will decide whether to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which could lead to Venezuela's suspension from the OAS.


Inter-American Democratic Charter

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The OAS headquarters are in Washington, DC
  • Adopted in 2001
  • Can be invoked when there is a forcible overthrow of a democratic government, when the democratic order has been unconstitutionally interrupted in a member state, or when the democratic order is seriously impaired
  • Can lead to the suspension of the member state if two-thirds of the OAS member states vote in favour
  • In 2009, the clause was invoked and OAS member states voted in favour of Honduras' suspension following the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya

Mr Maduro, who has clashed with Mr Almagro in the past, reacted angrily.

He told a rally of supporters: "Mr Almagro, you can take your Democratic Charter, put it into a thin tube, and shove it wherever it fits. Venezuela must be respected!".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Government supporters cheered when Mr Maduro said that Venezuela must be respected

Speaking on his national television programme, he later said that Mr Almagro was "filled with hate against Venezuela" and accused him of acting on behalf of the US State Department.

"History will judge you and you'll drown in the deepest mire in hell [reserved] for interventionist traitors," he added.

'CIA agent'

Mr Maduro has in the past accused Mr Almagro of being a CIA agent and has blamed Venezuela's problems on a war being waged against it by the US with the help of right-wing forces within Venezuela.

Latin American 'traitor' row escalates

He also had harsh words for leaders of Venezuela's National Assembly who had asked the OAS to invoke the Democratic Charter.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The president of Venezuela's National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, welcomed Mr Almagro's move

He said he would put them on trial for treason.

The government and the National Assembly have been engaged in a stand-off ever since the MUD opposition coalition won control of the legislative body in parliamentary elections in December.

MUD politicians say their every move is thwarted by the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council (CNE), bodies they allege have been stacked with supporters of President Maduro.

They accuse the government of trying to block a recall referendum which could see Venezuelans vote on whether they want Mr Maduro to serve out his term or be removed from office.

Members of Mr Maduro's Socialist Unity Party allege that at least 10,000 of the 1.85 million signatures on a petition demanding the recall referendum belong to people who are dead, and are therefore fraudulent.

The National Electoral Council has yet to comment.

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