Venezuela calls rivals at OAS meeting "lapdogs of imperialism"

Venezuela's foreign minister blasts some members of the 34-nation Organization of American States after they chastise the current situation in the Latin American country.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez addresses the media ahead of the OAS 47th General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico, June 19, 2017.

Updated Jun 21, 2017

Governments from across the Americas on Tuesday chastised Venezuela's socialist leadership for its handling of a political and economic crisis, prompting the OPEC nation's foreign minister to call the critics "lapdogs of imperialism."

The United States, Brazil and ten other members of the 34-nation Organization of American States issued a letter accusing Venezuela of undermining democracy, failing to feed its people and violating rights.

"Considering the interruption of the democratic process in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we believe that there should be a settled solution that includes all Venezuelan parties for the benefit of the people of that nation," said the letter issued at the OAS general assembly in Cancun, Mexico.

It called for the release of political prisoners, respect for rights, an election timetable, a "humanitarian channel" to ship food and medicine, and the creation of a group or mechanism to help "effective dialogue among Venezuelans."

The 12 nations also called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to abandon a July 30 vote for a super-body with powers to rewrite the country's constitution. Critics see Maduro's move as a ploy to hold on to power.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez fired back, criticising Mexico's rights record and highlighting poverty, violence and migration in Honduras and other nations.

Rodriguez said the country's planned constituent assembly was the only way to peacefully overcome the current crisis and called her critics "lapdogs of imperialism."

"Do you want war? Is that what you want for Venezuela?" the minister said, wearing a red dress, the colour identified with Venezuela's Socialist Party.

"Great, we've reached the boss," she said as US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan began a speech, repeating her jibe that the OAS is an arm of US diplomacy.

"The only way you could impose this on us is with your Marines, which would meet a strong response in Venezuela," Rodriguez said, referring to the proposal to create a group of nations to help resolve the crisis.

Honduran Foreign Minister Maria Dolores Aguero said Rodriguez should explain how her government was going to alleviate Venezuela's problems.

"Instead of responding to all of us who want peace for your people, why not tell us how you are going to resolve the crisis they are living?" Aguero said.

A meeting on the sidelines failed on Monday to agree on a resolution formally rebuking Venezuela, where 75 people have been killed in protests in recent weeks.