A marathon meeting of the Organization of American States over Venezuela ended in a deadlock early Friday when the permanent council could not agree whether to send a mission to investigate rights abuse allegations or empanel regional foreign ministers to discuss the unrest and protests in the South American nation.
After eight hours, the Venezuelan government was able to muster enough support to block a petition by Panama calling for emergency measures to address the ongoing protests and unrest aimed at President Nicolás Maduro.
On Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua called it “a victory” for his country’s sovereignty.
Maduro broke off diplomatic ties with Panama, accusing the government of President Ricardo Martinelli of trying to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs.
“What is clear is that they [the diplomats] have been able to stop the interventionist intentions of those who called this council,” Venezuela’s OAS ambassador Roy Chaderton told reporters after the closed-door meeting.
The United States and Canada have backed Panama’s proposal.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua called it “a victory” for his country’s sovereignty
The OAS was expected to meet later Friday to continue discussing what further action, if any, to take. Diplomatic sources at the regional organization’s headquarters in Washington expected that the ambassadors would eventually issue a joint resolution calling for dialogue between Maduro’s government and the opposition.
The nationwide protests against Maduro’s economic policies, the country’s high crime rate, and food shortages are in their fourth week. Students continued to erect street barricades in many cities on Thursday as hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans went back to work following an extended seven-day Carnival holiday, which also coincided with commemorations marking the first anniversary of the death of Hugo Chávez, who governed the country for more than 15 years.
During the OAS meeting, Bolivia – a Venezuelan ally – presented a resolution backed by Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil lauding the Maduro government’s efforts to resolve the social unrest by calling a peace conference.
Opposition groups have said they would meet with Maduro but wanted a pre-agreed agenda of the subjects that should be discussed.