Eleven of the 14 governments that are part of the Lima Group have rejected the possibility of military intervention against Venezuela‘s government and defended a peaceful outcome of the migration crisis.
The statement was in response to a press conference on Friday, where the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, refused to rule out military action, adding that only restoring democracy in Venezuela would solve the crisis the country is in.
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“As for military intervention to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro regime, I think we should not rule out any option, because definitively, the Nicolas Maduro regime is perpetrating crimes against humanity towards its population, and violations of human rights,” said Almagro.
“The suffering of the people, in this induced exodus, that it is driving, means that diplomacy remains the first option but we can’t exclude any action.”
This is the first time the Lima Group, which was established in 2017 to apply international pressure on Venezuela, and Almagro have publicly disagreed on Venezuela.
“The Lima Group rejected the military intervention against Venezuela and left Luis Almagro, slavish agent of the Empire, all alone with his coup plotting obsession,” tweeted the Bolivian head of state, Evo Morales, on Sunday.
“It is a defeat of Trump’s interventionism and a victory of dignity and courage of Venezuela and Latin America,” he added.
The Venezuelan government announced it would appeal to the UN and other international bodies to take action against Almagro.
“Almagro attacks Latin America and the Caribbean… intends to revive the worst military intervention on the continent,” said Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.
The idea of resolving Venezuela’s crisis by changing the regime has always been rejected throughout the region.
Almagro’s threat of military force is surprising as he previously condemned the region’s support for a US invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 in order to remove a democratically elected president.
The invasion, carried out in the OAS’ name, left thousands dead and generated resentment against the idea of using force against sovereign nations.
In 2015, Almagro apologised for the OAS’ role in the invasion, saying such events should never be repeated. The region has not had a full-scale war in more than five decades.
Almagro’s comments came after his three-day visit to neighbouring Colombia where a wave of migrants has fled to from oil-rich but impoverished Venezuela.
Almost a million Venezuelans are currently living in Colombia, according to the government, but the real number is likely higher.
“We haven’t had anything to eat for four days,” Eric Aparicio, a Venezuelan migrant trying to cross into Colombia, told Al Jazeera. “We bring metal and plastic, I don’t know how much I will make with this but at least enough for a piece of bread.”
Governments initially welcomed the migrants with open arms, remembering Venezuela’s role in welcoming those fleeing dictatorships and conflicts in the past.
But the exodus has ballooned this year, stretching social services, creating more competition for low-skilled jobs and stoking fears of unrest.