Venezuela has said it will withdraw from the Organization of American States in reaction to pressure from the bloc over the government’s handling of the country’s political crisis.
Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the government would launch a two-year process to pull out of the Washington-based regional diplomatic grouping that it has been a member of for more than 65 years.
“Tomorrow, as President Nicolas Maduro has instructed, we will present a letter of complaint to the OAS and we will begin a process that will take 24 months,” she said in a televised address on Wednesday.
Rodriguez said Maduro’s administration has been forced to counter what it sees as an attempt by the OAS and conservative regional governments to topple Maduro.
The decision came a short while after envoys to the OAS approved a resolution convening a special meeting of regional foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela’s crisis.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has previously branded Maduro, an elected socialist, a “dictator” for stifling the opposition.
The opposition, demanding that Maduro call early elections, have staged daily rallies for weeks.
So far this month, at least 28 people have been killed in political unrest. Several of them have been shot in anti-government protests that have erupted into clashes with riot police.
Protesters returned to the streets for another day of protests on Wednesday. Riot police fired tear gas as thousands tried to march to downtown Caracas.
The country is in the middle of a crippling economic crisis that has led to high food prices and a lack of basic goods.
Maduro says the economic crisis is due to a US-backed capitalist conspiracy.
Rodriguez branded the OAS an “interventionist coalition” led by Washington.
“Venezuela will not take part in future in any activity or event where there is an intention to take a position of interventionism or interference,” she said.