Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Migule Insulza received on Tuesday full support from country members' representatives during a debate promoted by Venezuela following the controversy with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
The support came during a regular session of OAS Permanent Council, composed by the ambassadors of member-states, following Chavez' attacks on Insulza for commenting on the potential non-renewal of a broadcasting license to a private TV channel RCTV. Venezuelan alternative ambassador to OAS Nelson Pineda opened the debate by reading a communiqué from the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regard to Insulza's concern. Chilean alternative representative Francisco Bernales, a fellow citizen of Insulza, started the string of support to the secretary-general management and expressed concern "about the pitch of the Chávez expression," asking for respect. Similar expressions followed from Guatemala, Canada, Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, United States and Costa Rica. The debate concluded with no resolution but the Venezuelan delegate did not respond to the reactions of the different delegates. However the Chilean press reports that Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolas Maduro, interviewed by phone in Caracas, reaffirmed Chavez statements and warned that whoever meddles in Venezuelan affairs will be exposed to a harsh reply. "As long as he respects the principles of self determination and sovereignty and does not attempt to make the OAS Secretariat into a colonies' ministry, we will have good political relations with Insulza. But as happened a few days ago, if he attempts to interfere in affairs which are exclusively Venezuelan he will receive a harsh reply because sovereignty for us is sacred", said Maduro. The Venezuelan official went further and said that if "Insulza does not retract from his statements he will have to leave the OAS, because the time when OAS was managed by the United States imperialist poweer is over. Nobody gives us orders, only the sovereign peoples of our countries" he underlined. Maduro added that in Venezuela there's a democratization process in the media with "hundreds of community television channels, hundreds of radios, thousands of community newspapers, so we are undergoing a process of expansion and democratization of the media with strict respect for freedom of speech". Insulza who was present during the debate did not participate and had announced previously he would not reply Chavez' insults, who called him publicly an "idiot". "I'm not willing to be involved in a match with the president of any member state", said Insulza early Tuesday during a meeting of the Inter American Dialogue. Insulza did say during the morning forum that he was abiding by the charter of OAS as the head of OAS, following on the 2001 Inter American Democratic Charter. "Fundamental components of the exercise of democracy are transparency n governments' activities; probity, governance, respect for social rights and the freedom of speech and freedom of the press". "I'm not telling anybody: "do this", rather "we're concerned"", underlined Insulza "hoping that what was announced does not happen". President Chavez has had an ongoing battle with the Venezuelan established media which he accuses of boycotting his Bolivarian revolution and being loyal to the "empire's" (US) interests. Meantime, the US State Department described Chavez' references of Insulza as "unfortunate" and non constructive for the understanding and respect in the region.