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Montevideo, October 19th 2018 - 13:29 UTC

Controversial Almagro’s “complete support” for the Referral to ICC of Venezuela Investigation

Friday, September 28th 2018 - 08:34 UTC
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OAS Secretary General and elected Senator Luis Almagro next to his political mentor ex president Jose Mujica. (Photo Archive) OAS Secretary General and elected Senator Luis Almagro next to his political mentor ex president Jose Mujica. (Photo Archive)

The controversial Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, expressed his complete support for the decision of the presidents of Argentina, Mauricio Macri; of Chile, Sebastián Piñera; of Colombia, Iván Duque; of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez; of Peru, Martín Vizcarra; and of the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, to refer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) the investigation into the existence of crimes against humanity in Venezuela.

“The leaders of these six countries have taken an historic step today unprecedented in the history of the Americas, creating a crucial milestone in the interests of justice, accountability, non-repetition and reparation to the victims of the Venezuelan dictatorship,“ said Almagro.

“Political events like that of today honor the memory of the murdered and restore the hope of justice for the tortured, the political prisoners and their families, the forcibly exiled and all the Venezuelans who suffer, who go hungry, who are forced to search for food in the garbage, who lack access to medicine,” he said.

”At this moment we must thank the governments of the six countries for the initiative to endorse the report of the panel of jurists constituted by the OAS General Secretariat in September 2017,“ he added.
Luis Almagro also extended his recognition to Luis Moreno Ocampo for the design and launch of the public hearings, as well as the members of the panel of experts Santiago Cantón, Irwin Cotler and Manuel Ventura, for their hard work in documentation of these crimes, collecting testimonies from victims and their loved ones and systematizing the information.

”At this moment, more than ever, our thoughts are with the victims, with their relatives and friends,“ said Almagro, ”it is for them and for the hard-working Venezuelan people that we will continue to redouble our efforts, together with the member states of the OAS, to achieve a hemisphere of peace, democracy and full respect for human rights“.

Despite the full heart with which Almagro is addressing the Venezuelan situation, the former foreign minister of ex president Jose Mujica is an increasingly controversial figure to the extent that the Uruguayan government has withdrawn all support to his bid for another five years as OAS Secretary General, because of his aggressive stand on the issue. Uruguay's position has its own roots, but is not the only one in the inter-American system since Almagro as Secretary General must abide by the decision of the General Assembly and not his own initiatives no matter how touching they might be.

As Mujica's minister of foreign affairs Almagro was very close, supportive and even cozy with the Venezuelan regimes of Hugo Chavez and later Nicolas Maduro and full of praise for the Boliviarian revolution, as was his political mentor Mujica.

However Almagro, who was elected Senator in 2014 in Mujica's slate, was finally nominated OAS Secretary General following Mujica negotiations to convince the US to accept ”a few crates of Uruguayan oranges“ in exchange for taking six Guantanamo prisoners and chicken wings, in a deal obviously ”dismissed“ by the State Department of the outgoing Obama administration. But part of the deal was also five years for Almagro, who quickly turned around and started a kind of personal crusade against Maduro, on occasions brushing aside the Assembly's mandate.

Since the Uruguayan ruling coalition, Broad Front, with a majority of Mujica's party is divided regarding the Bolivarian revolution, Uruguay does not belong to the Lima Group nor is it one of six referring Venezuelan human rights violations to the ICC, and because Almagro, besides his kind of ”personal crusade“, did at some moment understand that a ”military intervention” against the Maduro regime could be considered, in Montevideo the coalition is furious and wants him ousted of the political force.

Almagro rejects point blank such an initiative, (he considers himself a full member of the Broad Front), and after visiting Venezuelan refugees at the Colombian border, allegedly shocked at what he saw, called all supporters of the Maduro regime, “stupid”, “imbeciles”, “morons”, further infuriating his former comrades in Mujica's party.

Indeed a most controversial figure, who in recent times had to cancel planned activities in Montevideo because he was well aware the OAS Secretary General would be received by an empty audience. Last but not least there is an ongoing courts investigation in Uruguay as to shady business deals of Mujica's inner circle with officials from, in Almagro's words, “the Venezuelan dictatorship.”

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