Diplomacy and interventionism

Rafael Uzcátegui
(Translation by Johnny Graterol.

There are people, some of them honestly convinced of it, for whom the actions of the Organization of America States regarding Venezuela’s situation is “interventionist”, an attack on the sovereignty of the country one should reject. This opinion seems to not know the difference between the different regional agreements subscribed by nation-States, some covering several aspects regarding human rights, and the unilateral decisions taken by one government against another, that could indeed be considered interventionism in their internal affairs.

The root of this discussion have to do with the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter to Venezuela. This legal instrument, in a similar manner to the progressive acknowledgment of human rights, was a conquest of the popular struggles, not a concession by the States. For many years, the OAS was criticized for not taking a more decisive role standing against the military dictatorships of the region. The end of the Cold War did not bring an end to the authoritarian governments in the LATAM area, which were forced to keep certain formalities in their wish to stay in power. That’s how it came to be the first modern dictatorship in Perú, in 1990, with the arrival of the presidency of Alberto Fujimori. It was both the pressure of the social movement against fujimorismo, and the human rights movement, what compelled several instances of OAS to develop a more prominent role in the indictment of its excesses, and the restitution of democracy. The discussion about the need to create a regional action protocol went in a fast-track after the experience of Fujimori, and it’s not casual that its enactment took place in the city of Lima, in September of 2001. That is why it may be regarded as an achievement of the movements opposed to the dictatorship, which forced the OAS to take action, without the hesitation of yore, in the face of the break of constitutional order, independently of the ideology behind said authoritarianism.

Under the presidency of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela played a key role in the debates about the creation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, as its documents prove. Ambassador Jorge Valero had long interventions defending the necessity of incorporate the term “participatory and protagonist democracy”. Actually, Chávez was the very first beneficiary , when in April of 2002, the OAS announced the activation of the charter against the coup d’etat, something that added up in his eventual restitution to power. He was so aware of its importance that in the year 2009 he ordered his then chancellor, Nicolás Maduro, to ask its application on Honduras. In the year 2001 Venezuela sovereignly agreed to be part of this diplomatic instrument, as it would do years later, when our country asked to be a member of MERCOSUR, accepting with it all of its protocols. If somebody still thinks this is an unjustifiable cession of the country’s sovereignty to deal with its internal affairs, they should enfilade all of their critics to the one responsible: Hugo Chávez.

The Venezuelan State is under the supervision of the international agreements and pacts that it sovereignly subscribed, in a shared sovereignty modality that is typical of the globalization. A completely different situation happens when another State, acting on unilaterally decided criteria, choose to intervene in the matters of other country by means of pressure contrivances, that include threats or, plainly speaking, use of force. Nevertheless, the respect to the popular sovereignty of other countries has a limit: The respect of human rights. No person should be indifferent to the violations that occur either in their countries, or in any other nation.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter involves just a series of progressive diplomatic tools for the restitution of democratic normality, a politically correct acting protocol that has been incorporated, in a similar manner, by other regional integration blocs like MERCOSUR. If you think the charter opens the gate to military interventions like the ones that happened in earlier decades in Latin America, you would be wrong. Not only because it was approved after all of those happened, but because it was created precisely to prevent unilateral actions, specially from the United States, by means of a regional acting agreement.

You may argue if there are reasons or not to apply the Inter-American Charter in Venezuela. But to regard it as “interventionism” when this procedure counted on, from its creation, with the active participation of Venezuela, a country that already benefited from it and at whose insistence it was applied on another country (Honduras), and that should, for the sake of coherence, put an emphasis in the government that agreed to hand over a piece of its sovereignty so the restitution of democratic institutional integrity would be possible, if needed.


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