OAS Elections: a Yes To a Strong Hand Against Maduro

The re-election of Luis Almagro as Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) supposes support for the policies promoted by the United States. against the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, and reduces the options for dialogue in an increasingly polarized region.

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The day after Almagro’s election as secretary general until 2025 leaves a clear picture: less dialogue, more rhetoric and the OAS as a “sounding board” for each country’s internal policies and in which Washington hopes to continue “leading the orchestra “, various diplomatic sources valued in statements to Efe.

Almagro joined the OAS in 2015, supported by the Uruguayan left of former President José Mujica (2010-2015) and with the overwhelming support of 33 of the 34 countries of the organization.

Immediately, his harsh rhetoric against Maduro generated mistrust, especially among some Caribbean countries that have a good relationship with Caracas, and his support was declining, although it is still significant as shown by the 23 votes he obtained this Friday.

Ten votes went to former Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa, who received the support of the leftist governments of Argentina and Mexico, while her candidacy was promoted by Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, two of the closest Caribbean countries. Maduro.

A REFERENDUM BETWEEN ALMAGRO AND MATURO

Speaking to Efe, Latin American political expert Bruno Binetti explained that a victory for Espinosa would have been read as a “diplomatic triumph” for Maduro, since it would have served to alleviate his isolation and would have been a blow to the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. , recognized as interim president of Venezuela by fifty hundred nations.

Some sectors of the politics of the Latin American right tried to portray Espinosa as the “Bolivarian option”; But, in Binetti’s opinion, that label is “exaggerated”, since he did not even receive the endorsement of the most important leftist figure in his country, former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

The Ecuadorian government of Lenín Moreno, in which Espinosa served as chancellor, did not support his candidacy either and opted for Almagro.

“For Almagro and its people, the choice was between Maduro or Almagro,” summarized Binetti, who considered that this “polarization scenario” was what convinced Peru to withdraw its candidate, the diplomat Hugo de Zela, who had advocated for an institutional path favorable to dialogue.

THERE IS NO SITE FOR THE POLITICAL CENTER

As demonstrated during the campaign, the OAS is a reflection of the ideological map of the Americas, where the right has gained prominence with Donald Trump in the US, Iván Duque in Colombia and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, while the left maintains its forces with Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico and Alberto Fernández in Argentina.

“Everything is polarized, the OAS too. The center has collapsed and we are seeing that there is no room for a more centrist position,” said the director of the Inter-American Dialogue analysis center, Michael Shifter.

In Shifter’s opinion, Almagro “is determined to continue and expand what he has been doing with Venezuela since he was elected in 2015, but it is not clear that there is so much enthusiasm for his style”, that is, “aggressive rhetoric” and the attacks on Twitter against Maduro.

In fact, three countries – Canada, Argentina and Peru – have already initiated contacts with the Cuban Executive to see if it is possible to establish a dialogue that will facilitate a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

ANY DIALOGUE DEPENDS ON US ELECTIONS

However, the future of any attempt at dialogue in Venezuela will depend on the outcome of the elections in the United States, in which Trump opts for re-election and hopes to take over the important state of Florida, where voters of the Cuban exile, contrary to Maduro.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, primaries are being held to choose who will face Trump in November.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is a favorite and has promised to be firm against Maduro, while Senator Bernie Sanders wants to give a 180 degree turn to US policy towards Latin America, something that could end up affecting Almagro.

It will be interesting to see if Almagro changes his stance on Venezuela if a Democrat comes to the White House, Binetti said.

USA It has always had a great influence on the OAS: its headquarters is in Washington and it contributes 60% of its funds. Would a change in the White House mean a change in the OAS and, therefore, a change in regional policy towards Venezuela? Stay tuned, Binetti asked.

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