On Jackson Diehl's "Double Standards on Latin America": It's a Fine Time for OAS to Own Up

13/07/09 | The Washington Post's Deputy Editorial Page Editor makes a strong point using the case of Caracas Mayor to contrast the action and inaction of the OAS when democracy is under threat in the region. No case is more emblematic of Mr. Chávez's abuse of power than what Diehl describes in few words in his article. Nothing should shame the OAS more than the absolute silence of its principle body, the Permanent Council, on this issue. If it is not the President of Council (currently Chile's Ambassador to the OAS) or the Secretary General (also a Chilean), it is almost impossible for a non-governmental player to air his case in front of this decrepit "Club of Aloof Governments". They defend their own when threatened, but they shy away from chastising members when they are the tormentors.

The only thing I would add to Diehl's fine piece is the fact that while the Secretary General is excusing his not interference in the Ledezma case on grounds that the OAS "cannot be involved in issues of internal order of member states,", the fact remains that that is exactly what the OAS was doing up to the moment President Zelaya was removed from his office and his country in his pajamas. Forgotten, or unknown by many, the OAS had sent a team of observers to the illegal ballot Zelaya was conducting against the orders of the Honduran Congress, the Supreme Court and the Military. Zelaya's electoral folly did not simply violate the law, it was actually forbidden by the country's Constitution. And what was the OAS team doing in Tegucigalpa? Encouraging the President and telling people that they should go out and vote! A few hours later the constitution-busting President was out of job and out of the country. It is probably now time that we focus attention not in the errors that justified the US-led removal of the OAS Secretary General from his natural role of post-facto facilitator or mediator of this crisis, but actually focus on this role as provoker in chief of this grave and ongoing crisis. He intervened wilfully in the affairs of Honduras with tragic consequences. He must respond for his misdeeds and stop inventing excuses to shelter the OAS from its real duties. Democracy in the region cannot depend on appeasement or on the whim of a team that is now covering its tracks with tough talk of sanctions and by cheering on the expulsion of Honduras from an organization that just a few weeks ago opened its arms to the Castro thugs.

I celebrate this article, but more than that I honor the courageous act of Mayor Ledezma that brought shame to the shameless.

Written by Pedro Mario Burelli