Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba will never rejoin OAS over Venezuela row, says Castro

Cuba"s President Raul Castro reads during the closing ceremony of the 7th Summit of Heads of State by the Association of Caribbean States at Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, June 4, 2016. (Jorge Luis Baños/Pool photo via AP) Image copyright AP
Image caption Raul Castro offered "firm solidarity" with Venezuela over its dispute with the OAS

Cuban President Raul Castro says the country will not return to the Organization of American States (OAS) in a show of solidarity with Venezuela.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almargo has called for sanctions against Venezuela.

At a summit of Caribbean countries in Havana, Mr Castro called the OAS "an instrument of imperialist domination".

Meanwhile, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has met jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

It was Leopoldo Lopez's first visit from anyone other than family members or lawyers since the 45-year-old was sentenced to 14 years in prison last year after being found guilty of inciting violence.

His supporters insist he is innocent and say he was jailed on trumped-up, politically-motivated charges.

The meeting at Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas lasted about 90 minutes, according to Adriana Lopez, the opposition leader's sister.

Mr Zapatero is trying to negotiate between the opposition and the government in Venezeula's worsening political crisis.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Leopoldo Lopez was sentenced to a long prison term last year

'Firm solidarity'

Cuba was expelled from the OAS in 1962 but following a recent thaw in relations with the US it was suggested that the island might return.

But Mr Castro appeared to rule out the possibility, offering "our most firm solidarity to our brothers the Venezuelan people, to the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro".

What has gone wrong in Venezuela?

Growing discontent on Venezuela's streets

Who are the main players in Venezuela's political crisis?

Mr Maduro is locked in a dispute with the OAS over opposition demands in Venezuela for a recall referendum.

Mr Almargo said earlier this week that "the institutional crisis in Venezuela demands immediate changes in the actions of the executive branch".

He has called an emergency meeting of the OAS at which member states will decide whether to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which could lead to Venezuela's suspension from the regional group.

What is the Inter-American Democratic Charter?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The OAS headquarters are in Washington, DC
  • It was 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

More on this story