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    Venezuela's OAS representative Carmen Luisa Velasquez as she interrupts Almagro's press conference. | Photo: OAS Venezuela

Published 20 March 2017

The Organization of the American States explicitly prohibits hosting anything that could have a political goal in its facilities, according to its internal rules.

Venezuela's diplomat interrupted General-Secretary of Organization of the American States, OAS, Luis Almagro before he started a press conference Monday at the organization's headquarters in Washington, where he was to call for the suspension of Venezuela from the regional group, flanked by right-wing opponents of the Bolivarian government including Lilian Tintori, the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Patricia de Ceballos, mayor of San Cristobal and wife of Daniel Ceballos, also in detention.

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Carmen Luisa Velasquez, Venezuela's OAS representative, condemned Almagro's move and announced that it will ask the Permanent Council and the 33 state members to rule on his “disgraceful” behavior.

“I am here to firmly protest against this press conference; this consists in a violation of the OAS rules; it can't be done; these people belong to a political party, Popular Will, that refused to join the dialogue in Venezuela,” said the state official in front of Almagro.

In a communique sent to the council, Venezuela criticized Almagro's move as “another demonstration that he (Almagro) is strongly undermining the OAS institutions.”

The letter explained that the Organization of the American States explicitly prohibits the hosting in its facilities of anything that could have a political goal according to its internal rules. Yet Almagro used “the OAS facilities with proselytizing ends one more time” and "violated the principle of non-intervention in the member-states' domestic affairs.”

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The interruption delayed the press conference and forced Almagro to reply by saying the persecution of Venezuela's opponents followed them everywhere, adding that “elections are the solution to dictatorship. This is how it went in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina,” referring to Almagro's ultimatum that Venezuela should hold snap elections or face suspension from the group.

Almagro had not made a public appearance since he asked the body last week to suspend Venezuela from the regional organization, urging the group to invoke the Democratic Charter — a process requiring the approval of two-thirds of the 34 member-states.

Tintori also called for the application of the OAS Democratic Chart against Venezuela at the press conference.

Almagro is a vocal supporter of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition. Since taking charge of the OAS in 2015, the Uruguayan politician has used the organization to support the anti-government campaigns of Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez.

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